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Two charged in fire in abandoned Aurora building

Updated: March 15, 2013 1:27PM



AURORA — Several young homeless men were arrested early Wednesday after an incident involving a fire set in an abandoned building in downtown Aurora.

Gavin R. Lockman, 23, and Richard E. Esler, 21, were both charged with reckless conduct Wednesday morning after police were alerted to a fire burning in an upper floor of a vacant building in the 0-99 block of South Broadway. Police said they were alerted by a man who said broken glass fell from the building onto his car.

According to police, four men entered the abandoned building through an unlocked door. After a fight, the men split up.

Lockman and Esler built a fire to stay warm, placing a sheet of glass on the floor and then setting furniture on fire on top of the glass, but the fire later grew out of their control.

The two other men went to another floor of the building to sleep. They said they were awakened later by the smell of smoke, and one of the men started to break out windows to let the smoke out.

Aurora firefighters extinguished two small fires that were fueled by scrap wood and furniture, police said. The Fire Department estimated that no monetary damage was caused to the building by the fires, according to police.

Police arrested all four men, but charged only Lockman and Esler, who police said had been involved with the fire. Each was charged with one count of misdemeanor reckless conduct.

Further charges could be filed on all four men, police said, depending on whether an owner for the building can be located. Property tax records do not include a phone number for the property owner, located in Lincolnwood, and showed that taxes have not been paid on the property in several years, police said.

One of the men had burn marks on his coat, but police reported no injuries in the incident.



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