A 46-year-old Riverside man remains in custody at Cook County Jail after being arrested last week for allegedly setting fire to his West Burlington Street home in March.
A Cook County judge on Oct. 7 set Anthony Barker’s bond at $150,000 after the Cook County State’s Attorney charged him with two counts of arson. Riverside police arrested Barker on the morning of Oct. 6 when he went to the police station to pick up a copy of the police report about the fire.
Firefighters responded to Barker’s residence at 170 W. Burlington St. at 3:40 a.m. on March 19. Riverside Public Safety Director Matthew Buckley, who was the first to arrive at the scene, said he believed the fire was suspicious immediately.
Both the home and the detached garage were on fire, said Buckley. The side service door to the garage was open and basement windows of the home were broken, as if someone had thrown something through them.
Buckley said he ordered firefighters not to enter the home, because the odor of an accelerant was evident. Investigators reported that the accelerant was a “petroleum-based product.”
Fire destroyed the garage and heavily damaged the ranch-style home, where the floor collapsed into the basement. Firefighters concentrated the efforts on making sure a home that sits immediately east of the garage did not catch fire, though that home did sustain some minor damage.
When police first contacted Barker to inform him of the fire, he reportedly told them he was downstate, but Buckley said police used surveillance camera video and cellphone records to place Barker at the scene around the time the fire started. When police called him that morning, he reportedly was still in the Riverside area.
Barker purchased the home in 2020 through a corporation called Rekrab LLC, according to Illinois Secretary of State corporation records and Cook County Clerk property records. That LLC was involuntarily dissolved by the state in October 2021.
The property has been fenced off but remains a ruin as the insurance company works through its investigative process.