String of suspicious house fires in Hopewell

By Nicole Bell - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

HOPEWELL, VA (WWBT) – An investigation is underway into a string of house fires that are being called, highly suspicious.

The fires are happening in one neighborhood in Hopewell. The most recent one took place Tuesday morning. Now, investigators are trying to figure out if the fires are linked and how they started.

On North 15th and 16th Avenues a total of three homes have gone up in flames in recent months. The fires have taken place between 1:00 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. It's a trend that has some neighbors, like Debra Ricks, worried.

"I am concerned and I just think it's not a good thing," said Ricks.

The most recent fire in the neighborhood happened just after three o'clock Tuesday morning. Investigators say the house at 220 North 15th was vacant when a fire broke out on the back porch and spread to the interior of the home.

Debra Ricks: "I think they're linked -- I surely do."
Nicole Bell: "Why do you think that?"
Debra Ricks: "Just because of the way they're done."

Fire investigators say it's unclear what if any connection the fires have to each other. All of them are considered suspicious.

Fire Chief John Tunstall:  "That means it wasn't accidental."
Nicole Bell: "Are we talking arson here?"
Fire Chief John Tunstall: "We're investigating all possibilities right now. We have determined that this is not normal."

Tunstall says evidence has been collected from each fire scene.

"We have detectives working to try and determine who's been setting these fires. This is unusual for our area. This is the first time since I can remember that we've had three fires in the same area, all appear suspicious, and within a short period of time," said Tunstall.

Calvin Barnes and other folks living on North 15th and 16th say they now plan on starting a neighborhood watch.

"To try and keep an eye out during the night for people walking the alleys and street corners," said Barnes.

Until then, residents say they're on alert. If you have any information on any of these fires contact Hopewell Fire Department or police.

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