Prison For Man Who Set Belmont Coach House Ablaze

A man who intentionally set his friend’s Lakeview home on fire last spring has been sentenced to three years in prison.

Bobby Idaka, 54, was drunk when he angrily set fire to a dumpster behind his friend’s home in the 900 block of West Belmont on May 7, prosecutors said. Idaka started the fire after threatening to “blow the place up” if his friend was not there, according to an assistant state’s attorney.

Surveillance cameras captured images of Idaka lighting the dumpster fire which quickly jumped to a 3-story coach house behind the Belmont Army retail store.

No one was injured in the fire, but two people who lived in the coach house were forced to find other housing. One of the victims relies on a wheelchair.

Idaka was arrested one day after the fire as he stood outside of the Elks Veterans Memorial at Diversey and Sheridan, police said. He has an extensive arrest record dating back to the early 1990’s. He listed a church in the 600 block of W. Deming as his home.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is