An anonymous donor paid for hotel rooms for several dozen homeless people who had been camped out in tents in Chicago as temperatures dipped to life-threatening cold levels Wednesday morning.
The good Samaritan picked up the hotel bill for about 70 people after donated propane tanks that kept them warm in subzero temperatures were confiscated by the Chicago Fire Department following an explosion, the Chicago Tribune first reported.
The homeless group had set up tents in a makeshift camp near an expressway in Chicago, where temperatures plummeted to 22 degrees below zero. They were keeping warm thanks to 100 donated propane tanks, at least until one of them exploded on Wednesday afternoon, prompting their confiscation and a response from the Salvation Army.
“There was a significant amount of propane there, and with that many cylinders, that’s like a bomb going off,’’ fire department Chief Walter Schroeder told the Tribune.
Schroeder acknowledged the donation was an act of kindness but said the use of so many tanks was dangerous. The blast didn’t injure anyone but it did cause a small fire.
With the group’s heat source gone, the Tribune reports that the city notified Salvation Army spokeswoman Jacqueline Rachev, who sprang into action to help move the group to the organization’s warming center.
As Rachev worked to organize the move, the city called back to inform her that a good Samaritan had paid for the group to go to a hotel.
“All the folks there, some wonderful citizen is going to put all of them up at a hotel for the rest of the week,” she told the Tribune.
“Isn’t that wonderful? At least they’re warm and they’re safe,’’ Rachev said.
The identity of the donor remains a mystery and Rachev said she only knew that the hotel was located on Chicago’s South Side.