HFD: Serial arsonist may have struck again

May 22, 2011 3:45:40 PM PDT
People at a west Houston apartment complex are concerned about an arsonist on the loose after investigators say a fire was set outside one of the apartments.

Just before sunrise Saturday, Ripple Creek Townhomes off Woodway and Ripple Creek was hit by a serial arsonist. Residents are worried it may happen again.

Investigators say someone poured gasoline all over the entry way to one of the buildings, then lit it on fire.

That entry way is the only way in -- or out -- for the people who live in four townhomes.

Four people had to be rescued from the building. Adam Badgley was the closest to the flames.

"I heard popping and cracking and I woke up and saw the flames," he said.

His front door was hot, so he knocked out his window screen and climbed out of a window.

For his upstairs neighbors, including a little girl, escaping wasn't as easy.

A couple sat on their windowsill until firefighters could get to them. Another woman and young girl were hospitalized for smoke inhalation once they were rescued.

"We've had a rash of these [fires], similar to this, in the past several months," Robert Schlieter, district fire chief, said.

According to the Houston Fire Department, the serial arsonist is suspected of starting at least 30 fires since January 2010. Neighbors near Ripple Creek Townhomes are now fearful about the arsonist loose in their neighborhood.

"I am a little fearful, but I'm going to stay here. I like where I'm located," neighbor Susan Cole said.

Residents, neighbors and officials hope the person responsible is caught before he or she strikes again.

"We hope that police will be able to catch these people who are doing this around this area," neighbor Nathalie Toro said.

Anyone with information about who may be setting these fires is urged to call Crime Stoppers.

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