Arson suspected in holiday fires in Plainfield

January 11, 2012 4:41:24 AM PST
Five vehicles have been torched within two weeks in one Plainfield neighborhood.

Police are warning residents to close their garage doors and lock their vehicles. Fire investigators sifted through charred ruins Tuesday and spoke with neighborhood residents.

"It's your home. You feel safe in your home, but now all of a sudden, you don't feel safe. And it's scary," Holly Lawhead, resident, said.

Early Sunday morning, residents called 911 after discovering a burning car inside a garage.

"At that point it was just the cars. Within the time that I called 911 and got my coat on to come outside, the entire garage was up in flames," Jacquelyn Griffin, witness, said.

Just down the block on the normally quiet street, two other cars were also on fire.

"It's hard to lie in bed when you think the garage is going to blow up right below you because all of our bedrooms are above the garages," Griffin said.

Police say the fires were just the latest in a string of arson incidents on this stretch of Hazelwood Drive in Plainfield. Since Christmas, at least five fires have been set, damaging seven vehicles and at least two homes. The first incident happened on Christmas morning when Shannon Morris's Ford pickup was set on fire in her garage.

"I know that I was thankful that everybody got out okay, but it's still hard to think that somebody would do that on Christmas morning," Shannon Morris said.

On January 1, two vehicles parked outside were set on fire.

"All of the fires that have occurred have been crimes of opportunity where the vehicles have been left open for them to enter," Plainfield Police Chief John Konopek said.

No one has been injured in any of the fires, but in this normally quiet neighborhood few can rest easy.

"Just keeping our garage closed, our fence closed, just keeping an eye out," Carl Peterson said.

"We're all in shock, I guess you could say. I could never believe it could happen to my family ever, and then to happen down the block again, it's ridiculous and you'd never expect it happen ever," Morris said.