Suspicious fires worry neighbors in northwest South Bend

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Two South Bend firefighters were injured dowsing a house fire on Brookfield Street Wednesday morning.

This is just the latest fire in that neighborhood and investigators are looking into whether they could all be connected, and possibly the work of an arsonist.

ABC57 has reported on at least six fires in the northwest part of the city already this month and four of them are within walking distance of each other. Some neighbors fear they are not all accidents.

“That’s scary. I mean I have kids,” Barbara Fitch, who lives in the area said.

At about 1 a.m. Wednesday morning, a fire spread through a vacant house on Brookfield Street on the cities northwest side.

“Structure fire 1141 n. Brookfield Street,” a dispatcher said, in Broadcastify audio.

But this isn’t the first home to catch on fire. In fact, three other houses just blocks from each other have all gone up in flames this month.

On October 5th, this home was on fire and it’s just a block down from today’s fire. On October 7th there were two other fires. One on Johnson Street, just around the corner from today’s fire and another on Adams Street – just a couple minute walk. And two more about a mile away.

“I see a lot of police coming up and down the street, fire trucks and stuff like that,” Carly Tobar, who lives in the area said.

Barbara Fitch witnessed the October 5th fire on Brookfield herself.

“It was about 3 o’clock in the morning,” she said. “I just seen a bunch of flashing lights and stuff and I looked out the window and the firefighters were out here. They was out here a couple hours.”

She has lived in the neighborhood for the last few years and is worried her otherwise quiet neighborhood, could be turning dangerous.

“I love all my neighbors. I hate if something like that was going on for anybody in any neighborhood cause it’s so dangerous. Anything could explode, anything. Anybody could get hurt,” she said.

And she fears it could all be the work of a serial arsonist.

“I hope that it wouldn’t be a possible arsonist but from the looks of it, that’s what it seems like. That’s just really stupid that someone want to do something like that,” she said.

While others say it could be homeless people setting small fires to keep warm, but then they get out of hand.

“From my perspective, a lot of these vacant houses are being broken into and burned down because people are homeless, they don’t have anywhere to go,” Tobar said.

Most of the homes were vacant and there were no civilian injuries reported.

Today Captain Gerard Ellis with the fire department told ABC 57 the fires are still under investigation. Right now, the fire department is trying to determine if these fires were intentionally set and the police department’s arson investigator is on the case as well.

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