Friday, July 26, 2013
Frisco Fire Department investigating string of house fires
While officials didn't offer many details of the investigation, the fires are believed to be related.
FRISCO City authorities are searching for a serial arsonist after house fires early Sunday and Thursday mornings marked the fifth and sixth blazes at a single Frisco subdivision in a three-month span.
Four house fires have hit the Grayhawk subdivision since May 20, and six total fires have taken place since April 29. The most recent fires occurred in the 600 and 700 blocks of Burr Oak Drive, within walking distance of the previous four fires.
Firefighters extinguished a heavy house fire in the 700 block of Burr Oak early Sunday morning after receiving a smoke investigation call at about 3:50 a.m. Crews managed to bring the fire under control shortly after 5 a.m. The back of the two-story house was severely damaged, though no one was home at the time. Neighbors said they hadn't seen anyone at the home, which was listed for sale, in several days.
A fire in the 600 block of Burr Oak early Thursday morning took place at the rear of an occupied house, the first time residents have been home during one of the fires. A police patrolman reported the fire at about 3:35 a.m. and firefighters extinguished the flames within 10 minutes. No one was hurt in the fire, which caused minor damage to the home.
The fires followed two others that took place at houses under construction in the 12900 block of Viola Drive, also located in Grayhawk, on May 20 and June 8. The latter fire caused about $50,000 in damages, and the Frisco Fire Department initially issued a statement calling the incidents "suspicious." An investigation later revealed the two fires were intentionally set.
Fire Chief Mark Piland said the two most recent fires are being classified as suspicious, though the fires are believed to be connected.
"All aspects of these fires are being looked at, including what connections exist between the fires," he said at a Thursday morning news conference. "There are certainly some similarities between the fires. All we can say right now is the first two [house] fires were intentionally set. Clearly the fires in the neighborhood are unusual -- there's no question about that."
Piland declined to say if there are any suspects and if the same accelerant was used in the six fires, citing the ongoing nature of the investigation.
City officials said extra resources have been devoted to the investigation, and outside agencies are also involved. The city of Denton and State Fire Marshal's Office are among the agencies assisting the Frisco Fire Department. The Frisco Police Department has increased its amount of patrols in the neighborhood and is also providing investigative resources.
Police Chief John Bruce encouraged residents to call 911 if they witness suspicious activity.
"We have more than just the routine patrol in the area, but [we want residents to] report anything and everything -- just call," he said. "Don't feel as if you're bothering us. We want to find out who's doing this and stop the fires from occurring."
A city spokeswoman said two other fires have taken place in recent months near the four house fires. Firefighters extinguished a vehicle fire in the 700 block of West Talon Drive on May 23, and a trash can fire was reported in the neighborhood on April 29. Investigators later confirmed the vehicle fire was an act of arson.
The trash fire initially wasn't reported to the State Fire Marshal's Office, though it is now being reexamined in light of the other fires. Trash can fires typically aren't investigated unless there are suspicious signs, the spokeswoman noted.
At the Thursday news conference, Mayor Maher Maso said the city will catch the "coward" responsible for the fires.
"Obviously our residents are concerned -- I've received those notes and emails," he said. "We want to stress that we're using every resource possible. Public safety is the most important priority to Frisco -- we're one of the safest cities in the country. Someone out there knows something, and we're asking them to step forward and call us. I'm very confident that will happen."
In March, Frisco police announced they had arrested two teenagers who are accused of setting three fires at homes under construction on the other side of the city.
Those fires took place in the 1100 block of Ashley Drive, 15000 block of Bardwell Lane, and 15000 block of Beckley, all of which are within close proximity of one another. The most severe fire caused $250,000 in damages. Those locations are about 10 miles from Grayhawk.
Pegasus News Content partner - Star Local News
Staff writer Tiana Pigford contributed to this report.
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