Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

A Ford Heights firefighter trainee and college student was indicted in a Cook County court Tuesday on three counts of arson for allegedly setting fire to three vacant houses in the village.

Kaumain Allen, 19, was arrested last month when a Cook County sheriff’s police officer, on patrol in Ford Heights, found him during a premise check at a vacant house on 15th Street. They said Allen told the officer the fire department had sent him to retrieve equipment that had been left behind, but police learned that the fire department had not done so or authorized Allen to be in the vacant house.

Sheriff’s police and the state fire marshal’s office had been investigating several fires in Ford Heights; 11 in vacant houses and two vehicle fires, since October. They have not said that Allen is a suspect in any fires beyond the three for which he is charged.

He said Allen also is accused of setting fires in the 1500 block of Congress Lane on Feb. 9 and March 3. In the first of those, he allegedly entered an abandoned house, poured gasoline on a pile of debris against a back wall and used a pocket lighter to ignite it, according to prosecutors.

They said that Allen on March 3 went to an empty house, ignited a road flare with a propane torch and threw the flare onto another pile of debris, starting the structure on fire.

If convicted, Allen could face three to seven years per sentence and could receive consecutive sentences for the three separate incidents, Campbell said.

Ford Heights Captain Edward Griffin said the department “never had any problem” with Allen, who began as a volunteer trainee early this year and remained active through his arrest.

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