AKRON, Ohio – Investigators are trying to determine if a string of fires--all sparked within two hours--could be the work of an arsonist.
The three fires occurred within a two-mile radius. They broke out one after another, each about an hour apart. The first fire started at 2:26 a.m., followed by another at 3:30 and 4:30 Saturday morning. There were no injuries.
“I came up here and the fire was on the north side of the school, and the fire trucks were just everywhere” said Tom Custer, who lives near the abandoned Frank H. Mason Elementary School on Beaver St.
The school was the first to catch fire. Investigators said the blaze started in the auditorium.
The building is in the process of being torn down on Monday, but the weekend activity doesn’t sit well with Custer.
“It’s close,” Custer said. “It wouldn’t take nothing for a spark to come over here, as dry as it is outside, it could catch something on fire easy, real easy.
The other two fires were residential homes on the 500thblock of Allyn Street and the 600th block of Hawkins Street.
“It was pretty scary, cause it could have been anybody’s house,” said neighbor Brandy Berardi. “I smelled smoke, and I thought it was my house. So, I was freaking out and I came outside, and it was two doors down and the whole back of the house was engulfed in flames.”
Perhaps the place that’s suffered the most significant damage was the home on Hawkins. Investigators say a significant portion of the roof caught fire, totaling to at least $50,000 in damage.
Berardi said she’s hoping for the best, but she would not be surprised if the cases turned out to be arson or even careless behavior.
“This guy out here was lighting off fireworks last night. It could have been anything,” she said. “Somebody could have threw a cigarette. Who knows? Nothing really surprises me around here. It’s not very safe.”
The fires are still under investigation.