NEW CASTLE, Ind. - It's been a unsettling week for a handful of homeowners as they make repairs to after neighboring homes were likely intentionally set on fire.
Last Tuesday morning, four homes, all of them abandoned at the time, were up in flames in a half-hour span. The fires were so intense that neighboring homes were damaged in the process. One home damaged had the width of a neighborhood road as a cushion, which wasn't enough.
“It was one crazy night," said New Castle Mayor Greg York. "Four fires for any community is a lot at one time. We survived that and our fire department did a great job. There is an on-going investigation. We have not made any arrest yet. We have put out a $5,000 reward for any information that leads to an arrest for the situation but at this point in time it is still an on-going investigation.”
York said state fire marshal investigators have been to the city several times to try to piece together clues to track down the responsible parties.
While the homes that were intentionally set are completely in rubble, some neighboring homes suffered damage totaling more than $10,000.
“We put new windows in," said Jeffery Massengale, who has been helping a friend make repairs. His friend's bedroom window was destroyed while he was sleeping. “It was just a matter of minutes, if things wouldn’t have gone right it could have been very devastating for a lot of people.”
Connie Thompson had two grandchildren with her that night.
“I thought my house was going to burn down because the fire was so close to the edge," she said. "If the fire truck had not come, and start spraying, I think we would have lost our house all together.”
Thompson said her family had to stay one night somewhere else because of the smoke left over after three windows were shattered from the heat's pressure. It wasn't easy to get comfortable back in the place she's called home for the last nine years.
"Any little noise and we'd get up to look outside, so it wasn't easy to fall asleep," Thompson said.
Police interviewed three juveniles the morning of the fire, but York said investigators no longer believe they are the ones responsible for starting the fires. Anyone with information should call police at 765-529-4890.