A house in Madison County on Monday became the sixth in five Central Kentucky counties that Kentucky State Police think were burglarized and then set on fire.
The most recent case was in the 1200 block of Jacks Creek Road north of Richmond.
The fire was reported shortly after 10 a.m. A Madison County firefighter — who was also a former state police intern — saw black smoke billowing from the house, said trooper Robert Purdy of the Richmond post. The man drove onto the property, saw that no one was home, and used a garden hose to try to contain the fire before Madison County firefighters arrived to fully extinguish it.
Purdy said the fire appeared to be connected to the earlier fires.
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In each case, no one was home at the time of the burglary, and each fire was reported between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on a weekday. In most cases, the targeted homes “were nice houses out in the county” where no one was home “and neighbors aren’t necessarily within eyeshot of that residence,” Purdy said.
The first fire was set just after 11:30 a.m. April 29 on Pollys Bend Road north of Lancaster in Garrard County. The second was that afternoon on High Bridge Road south of Wilmore in Jessamine County.
The third house, on Woods Road west of Nicholasville, was burned May 2. The fourth fire caused heavy damage to a house that same day on Briar Hill Road in Fayette County.
The fifth fire happened May 3 at a house on Browns Mill Road in Scott County. The blaze leveled that house and destroyed a Ferrari automobile.
The Jacks Creek Pike house in rural Madison County seemed undamaged from outside, but it “had a fair amount of fire damage,” and “the entire inside of the residence is black with soot and smoke residue,” Purdy said.
Glass on the front door was smashed to get inside the house, he said.
“These homes aren’t just targeted at random,” Purdy said Monday. “There is some thought and some processing that is being done to make sure no one is home before these homes are burglarized and set on fire.”
“It’s incredible how many counties they’ve covered,” Purdy said. “It’s not like one street or one community is involved. This person or these people are covering multiple counties, possibly driving house to house to see if anybody’s home before actually coming inside.”
Asked how they know the fires don’t involve a copycat, Purdy said, “There have been things that we have looked at in our investigation that hasn’t been released, and so ... we see a lot of similarities when we arrive and begin our arson investigation.”
Investigators said anyone with tips or information may call state police Post 7, 859-623-2404 or the Arson Task Force, 1-800-272-7766. The Arson Task Force is offering a reward of as much as $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone connected to any of the fires.