Victim of Possible Arson Reacts to Morning Fire

By KBJR News 1

May 22, 2012 Updated May 22, 2012 at 7:06 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northlands NewsCenter)
-- It was a frightening scene in West Duluth Tuesday morning.

Three suspicious fires, all within one hour destroyed 31,000 dollars worth of property. Fire officials are suspecting arson.

Beth Williams, a single mother of three owns the garage that was destroyed by one of the fires.

She was shaken up but is staying strong and wondering why her garage was the target of this recent outbreak of suspicious fires.

"It's kind of hard to believe. I'm just kind of shocked. I guess that would be a good word. It's kind of unbelievable."

Williams is describing waking up to her garage engulfed in flames. Her neighbors saw the garage burn to the ground, a total loss, along with Williams two cars.

"It was bright, the flames were enormous and the sound; it was just scary," said West Duluthian Cindy Hamsmith, a neighbor of Williams.

Williams's home was left unscathed, but she's feeling uneasy.

"I don't know how you protect yourself against somebody that randomly picks a car or a garage and wants to see it go up in flames."

Her property wasn't the only case of suspected arson.

Before her garage fire, two vehicles, an RV and a pick-up truck, in two separate locations were lit up with extensive damage.

Fire officials see a common thread with these fires, and other suspicious blazes in recent weeks. Jim Reed is the Deputy Fire Marshal for the City of Duluth.

"They have all unsecured garages and unsecured vehicles, which means they are unlocked."

They residents of this West Duluth neighborhood are locking up and keeping an eye out.

"We are all neighbors and we all just need to look out for each other and this is what neighbors will need to do now." said Hamsmith, surrounded by her supportive neighbors.

Williams is hoping that everybody is paying attention for suspicious behavior.

"If somebody notices anything or knows anything reports it so this doesn't happen to another family or house."

Fire officials have handed over the investigation to the Police. They want to remind everybody that arson, depending on the amount of monetary damage can be a felony.

Officials say the fires have all been in unlocked garages or vehicles so remember to lock up. Also, if you see anything suspicious, especially in the early morning hours report it right away to the Duluth Police.

Zach Vavricka

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