BFD Batt. Chief: Fires near Tuggle Elem. considered arson

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Firefighters say there have been seven fires within a three block radius in less than three months.

Battalion Chief C.W. Mardis of the Birmingham Fire Department says investigators think someone set the fires intentionally. Three of the fires happened at the same house, according to Mardis.

Vacant properties are being targeted on streets that connect to 12th Court North near Tuggle Elementary School in Birmingham.

“It’s pretty concentrated time wise and area wise,” said Battalion Chief Mardis. “Right now the main concern is trying to find out who actually did it. Fortunately we are in the situation where we have not had any injuries or fatalities.”

He says the odds of an injury go up with each fire, for neighbors and the firefighters themselves.

“You’re always going to have those hidden dangers in those type of structures by them not being inhabited for some time. You could have holes in the floor. You could have roof collapse, things of that nature, so the inherent danger of firefighting is increased based on those factors,” said Mardis.

Even if occupied houses aren’t being targeted, neighbors are worried about embers coming from vacant properties.

In the most recent fire, the yard next door was torched by burning debris.

“My concern is somebody getting hurt, very hurt,” said Quinzetta Bradford. “They could catch fire like those in the back. They went from road to road catching fire. I’m concerned about the church. That could have been a fire, that house back there where I live at right in the back of me. My house could have caught a fire. So whoever it is I hope they catch them.”

Battalion Chief Mardis is confident they will. He wouldn’t comment on a possible motive, but he says investigators have solid leads.

“We do know that this person probably has some kind of mental issue,” said Mardis. “We do have some people that we are potentially looking at going to question.”

Copyright 2014 WIAT-TV CBS42

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