Hopewell neighbors upset with several recent fires

HOPEWELL, VA (WWBT) - A suspicious house fire has some Hopewell neighbors on alert. The blaze occurred Sunday night in the 2200 block of Lynchburg Street.

Investigators say there's evidence suggesting the fire was no accident. The damage is quite significant.  The fire started on the first floor of the house.

Dark smoke  billowed from the vacant home.  Flames quickly followed. Neighbors couldn't believe their eyes or ears.

"It sounded like a shotgun going off.  You could hear glass shatter and a big burst of fire came out from the side of the house," said neighbor Jeff Wahnon.

Investigators say, the fire is being looked at as a possible arson.

"There's no reason for us to believe the fire started by natural causes -- no heating appliances no electrical," said Hopewell Fire Chief John Tunstall.

The  suspicious fire is one of several in recent months. Another vacant house went up in flames on North 15th Avenue. The same thing happened to three other homes in that neighborhood.

Investigators say they don't believe this latest fire is connected to the others. Even so, neighbors are concerned.

"Everybody is on alert right now.  We still want to have our eyes open for each other," said neighbor Jonathan Hawkins.

Hawkins says the folks who lived in the home finished moving out hours before the fire started.

"My first response was to get over there and make sure nobody was in the house," said Hawkins.

No one was injured. In response to the blaze firefighters went door-to door handing out fire safety material.

Neighbors say they want to know who or what started the fire. If you have any information that can help investigators contact Crime Solvers at 541-2202.

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