Two new Heights area fires may be arson

November 17, 2009 2:13:13 PM PST
Authorities are investigating two more suspicious fires in the Heights. Both ignited just hours apart this morning.If the fires this morning were intentionally set, that would make 11 arson cases in the historic neighborhood since early August. The fires broke out at vacant homes not far from where several other fires have been ignited.

Both fires are being investigated as suspicious because both homes were vacant at the time the fire started. But just because no one was hurt in these fires doesn't mean residents in the neighborhood aren't nervous.

"It's terrible, it hurts," said fire victim Cleo Wilson.

Wilson has not lived in this Heights home for at least a year, but had 48 years of memories, along with antique furniture inside when it caught fire early this morning.

"Why? Why would they do such things? I just don't understand it and there are so many other houses they say have been burned down here," she said.

After two more overnight fires in the Heights, Wilson's former home at 12th Street and Herkimer around 3:45am and another house fire, around 6am just a few blocks away at 9th Street and Waverly both are under investigation this morning as arson. At the home off Waverly, fire investigators say the fire was set near an outside staircase.

"Everything is being looked at. Arson division is very vigilant and is looking at every aspect and every detail of its surroundings," said Captain Beda Kent with the Houston Fire Department.

HFD Chief Stein told Eyewitness News that investigators have linked the two fires from this morning to other fires which were intentionally set. Although they haven't yet been ruled arson, authorities say they match in time, method and clustering -- meaning they happened in the same area, started similarly and at about same time of day.

Nearby businessman, David Grace, watches but knows there's little defense against a person determined to set fires.

"There's nothing you can do, spend the night down here with a fire hose, there's not much you can do," said Grace.

The fire and police departments are stressing vigilance on the part of residents, as they investigate and Grace is hoping for the best.

"Hope they find him," he said. "They need to stop it."

A man seen near the first fire was taken into custody early this morning. He was questioned but there are no charges pending against him in any arson related matter. He does have a charge pending against him for possession of narcotics. He was taken into custody on the basis of public intoxication.

No one has been hurt in the fires.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $5,000 leading to an arrest. If you have any information in regards to these cases, you're asked to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

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