Authorities searching for man caught on camera in bizarre arson incident

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Authorities are searching for a man seen on video pouring some sort of fire accelerant along a two-block area and trying to start a fire. As crews worked to stop the flames, he came back a block later to strike again.

Firefighters were called to the 2800 block of Lyons Avenue in Mars Hill on Tuesday for what was reported as a small hazmat spill. They say the arson was first reported by the driver of a school bus who saw the man pouring the gas. When crews arrived, they found a small fire burning along the road and quickly extinguished it.

“We get calls for small spills all the time,” Wayne Township Fire Department (WTFD) Captain Michael Pruitt says, “Individual pours gasoline on the roadway, what’s next?"

WTFD says someone poured an unidentified accelerant about two blocks along the road, north on Lyons Avenue and east across Ironton Street up to Rybolt Avenue. The suspect was captured on camera doing this and can be seen lighting it on fire.

“I don’t understand why somebody would do that? It doesn’t make sense,” said Kelley Gentry who lives in the neighborhood.

As Paula Turner left her nearby home, she saw the flames, and noticed her truck was just a few feet away from the fire.

“I'm waiting for it to catch the front of the truck on fire, and I was going to stop it!" Turner exclaimed.

The suspect wasn't on the scene when crews arrived, but WTFD says the suspect returned to the scene and tried to re-light the liquid while he was in full view of firefighters.

“In today's world, you’d be surprised what you catch on video,” Captain Pruitt said.

They chased him, but the suspect fled the area in a light-colored, 4-door sedan.

“One thing is for sure, he doesn’t live in the neighborhood," Turner said, "But he does frequent the neighborhood.”

There were no injuries or property damage in this incident, and the suspect's motive is not known.

Anyone with information about this suspect is asked to submit an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers at 317-262-TIPS (8477) or call the Wayne Township Fire Department at 317-246-6200.

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