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South Memphis Neighbors Concerned Arsonist Is At Work

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(Memphis) Memphis firefighters are trying to figure out if an arsonist is burning down vacant properties in one South Memphis neighborhood.

Tuesday, they put out a fire in an abandoned duplex in the 900 block of Wellington, just south of Crump Boulevard.

It's the third suspicious fire in that neighborhood in less than a week.

Lonnie Rasheed says one of the fires on Gaston last Thursday got way to close to his house.

We could see where the fire singed the trim on the side of his house and even melted plastic on the inside of his windows.

"Not on the outside, but inside," said Rasheed.

By the time Rasheed and his son realized the house next door was on fire and made it outside it was already an inferno.

At the same time firefighters were putting out that fire, they were battling a fire at a vacant apartment building on Walker, just a couple of streets away.

Both were ruled arson.

Rasheed says he's lucky it wasn't worse, "If the house would have caught on fire there could have been the possibility that me, at 56, might not have been able to move quick enough to get out."

This morning, firefighters responded to a fire in a vacant duplex just a street away.

Investigators don't know if all three fires are connected, but aren't ruling out anything.

Neighbors are convinced they have a fire bug.

"I don't understand why someone would do something like that. Just burn up empty houses," said Mary Thomas.

There are about ten vacant houses on her street and she lives next to two of them.

"One on each side," said Thomas.

Thomas said if someone decides to set one of them on fire hers might burn, too.

She says there is only so much police and neighbors can do to stop it, "We look out. We are on constant watch, but we can't see from the back."

Fire investigators are asking anyone with any information about any of the fires to call Crime Stoppers at (901) 528-CASH.

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