Authorities on the Lookout for Heights Arsonists
by: David Pitman, September 9, 2009 5:09:43 pm
Since August 11th, there have been eight fires along Ashland between 10th and 11th streets. Allison Stein is the Chief Investigator with the Houston Fire Department. She says the same person has been setting those fires between the hours of 11 p.m. and three a.m..
"We've identified three trends which we use to identify a serial arsonist — which are the geographical area, or clustering, the temporal frequency of the fires, or the time they've occurred, and the method used to start the fires. We've identified that in this case, and what we have is a serial arsonist."
Stein says at first, the arsonist was targeting vacant structures, or storage sheds. Now, that person has moved on to starting fires in occupied homes. The fires haven't killed or hurt anyone yet, but authorities say that could happen if the arsonist isn't caught. Celina Quintanilla's home was hit late last month, and she says she's eager for police to find the person who did it.
"It's not only for us, 'cause, you know, but for other families, so other families won't get hurt. And for their safety, our safety, and the whole community's safety, too."
Investigators say they're following up on a number of leads, but they're not disclosing whether this arsonist lives in the neighborhood, or any possible motive. Crimestoppers is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest. The number is 713-222-TIPS.