Officials investigate suspicious arsons

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – A community is on edge after a string of suspicious fires and the Terre Haute Fire Department is searching for answers after a series of “avenue arson’s.”

Now, they are asking for your help to catch those responsible. Fire officials responded to a garage fire just after 7 p.m. Wednesday night on 22 Street and Second Avenue.

Michael Wilson, who was home at the time, said he noticed the fire while he was cooking dinner.

“I was like what the hell happened? I told my friend to get the water hose, and he started spraying it down. I called 911,” Wilson explained.

The moment Wilson saw the flames, his fears were confirmed.

“I’m just scared for my kids. What if it happens again? It could be the house or something like that.”

The fire that completely destroyed Wilson’s garage is the latest in a string of suspicious fires.

“Most recently the fires occur up to a couple of months to present time,” said Norm Loudermilk, director of the Arson Task Force. “The fire previous to this happened on Easter morning, and of course last night we had this fire.”

Three fires in three months – all within a three block radius, all classified as arson. The pattern has local fire officials concerned.

“The last firefighter killed in the line of duty in Terre Haute was killed as a result of arson. Anytime we’re battling arson or any other fire there is always a danger of someone being hurt,” said Loudermilk.

The short distance between houses in the area is also a concern. While no one has been injured in the recent fires, that might not be the case if they continue.

“It’s not only a monetary issue, but the fire could very well spread easily, get out of control, and people could get injured pretty quickly,” Loudermilk stated.

Abandoned homes and garages appear to be the targets, but officials are urging everyone in the area to be on high alert.

“Be more aware of your surroundings. If you come home and find somebody in your alley you don’t recognize, if they are messing around a garage or something like that, call the police,” said Loudermilk.

If you have any information regarding the fires you are asked to call Crime Stoppers at (812) 238-STOP. You can remain anonymous and there is a reward if the tip leads to an arrest.

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