Police search for arsonist after 2 near north side homes set on fire

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Police are investigating two house fires on the near north side of Indianapolis ruled to be arson.

The house fires occurred just a few blocks apart early Tuesday morning.

The first fire occurred around 2 a.m. near 18th Street and North Talbott Street. The Indianapolis Fire Department (IFD) says two parents and their toddler heard a noise and they ran out of the house. They saw a fire on their front porch, and they used a garden hose to extinguish most of it.

They were not injured, and they are back inside the house now.

Twenty minutes later, IFD responded to yet another porch fire—this one near Charlotte Place and Pennsylvania Street.

IFD says two women were travelling south on Pennsylvania in an Uber, and as they were being dropped off at their home, they saw the glow of the fire. They ran to the house and alerted the occupants.

Three people evacuated, and they are okay.

Peitz said the only reason she saw the growing fire was because her Uber driver had taken a wrong turn down the block.

“Makes you believe in a lot of things,” she said. “God put me there.”

The two male occupants on the north side of the double were alerted by their Ring alarm about activity on their front porch. They evacuated, and are also okay.

IFD Battalion Chief, Rita Reith said detectives are now looking through video footage from the Ring doorbell for any clues about the suspected arsonist.

“Arson is a crime of opportunity, so they’re going to use whatever they have available, easily available, readily available to maybe start a fire and get on their way,” Reith said.

The fires happened not far from two similar arsons that took place on Christmas Day in the nearby Old Northside Neighborhood. Those fires were also started on front porches and remain unsolved.

Pete Pappas, who lives in the Old Northside neighborhood believes the same arsonist is responsible for all four fires.

“The guy starts fires on the porch, is using the porch furniture,” Pappas said. “And he always lights the fires underneath a big picture window so the fire can communicate inside the structure and cause a lot of damage. So he knows what he’s doing.”

Pappas hopes whoever is responsible will be caught soon.

“Okay you’re sick, turn yourself in, get some help,” Pappas said. “Stop going this before you kill somebody.”

Reith said it’s too early for investigators to determine if all the fires are connected to the same person or group.

“As far as connecting all those dots and making sure this is either one person, more than one person or the same person, they haven’t gotten there yet,” Reith said. “And it may take them a while to do that, if they ever can do that.”

Reith is encouraging residents in the area to be mindful of the items left on front porches.

“If you have extra things like a lawnmower or gas cans or things that you don’t use on a daily basis, put those away at the end of the day,” Reith said. “Keep those locked up in a shed, in a garage area so that they’re not available combustibles to use.”

“We don’t want people living in fear certainly, but we want them to be aware and vigilant of what’s happening in their neighborhood,” Reith continued.

Police are now looking for an arsonist, and they are stepping up patrols in the area. Anyone with information can submit an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers by calling 317-262-TIPS (8477).

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