Crime

Latest Lexington fire heightens fear that arsons could cause injury, deaths; reward offered

A $1,000 reward is being offered for information in the latest in a series of intentionally set fires in Lexington's Hill Rise Drive area over the past few weeks.

Meanwhile, authorities still have not released the name of a man arrested this week after one of the fires. He remains in custody, Lexington fire department Maj. Ed Davis said Wednesday.

Davis said the $1,000 reward includes $500 put up by the International Association of Firefighters and the Citizens Fire Academy and Alumni Association, plus $500 offered by The Preakness apartments, where at least two of the fires have occurred.

The latest blaze in the Hill Rise area was reported at The Preakness about 11 p.m. Tuesday, and authorities think it might have been set inside dryer vents in a basement laundry room. A resident found the fire and had put at least part of it out when fire units arrived.

Earlier Tuesday, a man with burns was picked up for allegedly setting a fire in his own apartment at The Preakness. Authorities continue to withhold his name.

Firefighters now say at least 10 fires have been set intentionally in the Hill Rise Drive area since Thanksgiving, and they're worried.

"We are just terrified something bad is going to happen," Davis said Wednesday.

Davis said he doesn't want to frighten people, but "we are always scared to death anytime somebody is running around setting fires."

The fires have been in large trash bins, three vehicles, a shed, a vacant apartment and a recreational vehicle in the neighborhood off Versailles Road.

The latest fire prompted a reminder: Don't create easy access by leaving doors ajar and windows open or unlocked, Davis advised.

Officials don't know how the person who set the fire Tuesday night gained access, but a window was partially open.

Police took fingerprints off the windowsill and off the top of two dryers in the laundry room, according to Davis.

Of the 10 fires, Davis said, "We have said all along that we are not certain these are connected."

Officials are working on nothing more than a general description of a person seen near the area when some of the fires were set.

The man arrested Tuesday fits the general description given by residents in the previous fires, but so do lots of people, Davis said. The man was in jail Tuesday night when the latest fire was set.

Police have increased patrols in the Hill Rise Drive area, and the fire department is following every lead and tip it gets.

Davis urged anyone with information to call the Lexington fire department.

"We're looking for all the help we can get," he said. "This is the top priority for us right now."

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