Tonawanda News

NT

July 10, 2014

Two more fires raise concerns on Fifth Avenue

Police chasing leads with six fires on street in less than a month

Tonawanda News — North Tonawanda Police continue to investigate an escalating number of fires targeting a home on Fifth Avenue, following two more peculiar blazes Wednesday. 

Rescue workers were called to 19 Fifth Ave., twice on Wednesday for one small blaze that began at 7:34 a.m. and another more significant fire at 1:04 p.m. that engulfed much of the rear portion of the home. Officials say there were also reports Sunday afternoon of several “scorch marks” on the rear of the structure. 

The green, well-kept house was also set on fire three times in less than 36 hours on June 21 and June 22. Another fire took place during the same time period at 7 Fifth Ave. 

With a total of six fires on the street in less than three weeks, police say they are continuing to track leads. Chief William Hall said they have taken statements from several witnesses, including reports that several juveniles were seen in the vicinity of the home on bicycles around the time Wednesday afternoon’s fire took place.  

“There’s many different things coming up and we’re chasing those down,” Hall said.  

North Tonawanda Assistant Fire Chief Richard Kozak said Wednesday’s two fires combined caused about $5,000 in damage, on top of the $20,000 in damage incurred during the three fires in late June. 

“The first fire was smoldering,” he said. “The second time we came back the whole exterior wall towards the back was on fire.” 

Kozak noted that while other incidents of arson have taken place in the Lumber City during his tenure, it was never at the same address. 

“It’s been a while since we’ve had something like this,” he said. “We’ve had other incidents before but in different locations.” 

Officials believe the homeowner at 19 Fifth Ave., had already begun repairing damage from the June fires, with a red Dumpster fixated on the side of the house and several doors and windows boarded up. The home at 7 Fifth Ave., now has a “for sale” sign in front of it. 

One neighbor who resides on Fifth Avenue, but who did not wish to be identified, said the sense of worry that began during the June incidents has grown. 

“Obviously the neighbors are concerns,” Kozak said. “Nobody has really caught anybody setting the fires. It’s kind of mysterious right now. Hopefully they’re vigilant and they keep an eye out. If they see something suspicious make sure to call us.”

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