An area of west Lexington that was plagued by arson earlier this year saw another spate of suspicious fires Sunday morning. Fire investigators later said they had taken a group home resident into custody in one of those fires.
The fire department has given a lot of attention to the area, off Terrace View Drive near Versailles Road, since a string of about a dozen arsons in December and January, most of which remain unsolved. Most of those fires were set in dumpsters, sheds and cars.
Early Sunday, residents of the area were rattled by a new series of fires set in three dumpsters, a car and a shed, all on or near Hill Rise Drive.
Sunday afternoon, Ray R. Giattino, 45, was placed under emergency detention, meaning he could be detained involuntarily for up to 72 hours for a psychological evaluation, and longer depending on the outcome of the evaluation.
Meanwhile, fire investigators are preparing a warrant charging him with one count of first-degree arson, fire department spokesman Ed Davis said.
Giattino is accused of setting a room on fire inside an occupied cottage at the Messner Home, a private facility for men who are troubled or mentally ill or disabled. Giattino is a resident of the home, Davis said.
That fire was reported about 12:30 p.m. It was the last and most serious of the six suspicious fires over 12 hours, the fire department said in a news release.
(A house on nearby Delmont Court caught fire about 5 p.m. Sunday, but it was not thought to be related.)
Davis said fire investigators were looking for possible connections between Giattino and the previous arsons.
"Any time you have those same kind of fires in such a small area, you have to look at that person in connection with those other fires, too," he said.
However, investigators do not think Giattino committed all the arsons that have plagued the area.
"We were never convinced it was a single suspect setting all those fires," he said. "Right now, (Giattino) is only going to be charged with the fire at the Messner Home."
The Messner Home was in the news in late December following complaints that residents were harassing neighbors. Also, the state Department of Protection and Advocacy had alerted local agencies to allegations of poor living conditions.
The Messner Home, which encompasses three buildings on two pieces of property on Hill Rise Court and Versailles Road, cares for about 70 men whose problems include mental illnesses, mental disabilities and past incarcerations.