Topeka Fire believes arsons are connected

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Topeka Fire Department is searching for a serial arsonist after two more fires overnight. The fire marshal says there is an arsonist in the Plass area. Two arsons within an hour of each other earlier this morning.

“I could see the flickering of light underneath the door,” Bret Bartley, whose car was destroyed in an arson fire Monday morning said.

The fire was on Southwest MacVicar Avenue, and it destroyed a garage and the car inside. The other blaze was just blocks away on Southwest Randolph Avenue.

“My gas can that I have for my lawn mower was sitting on my hood on fire,” Bartley said.

“Just took my garden hose I had on the house and took it out there and started spraying it off and called the fire department,” Bartley said.

The latest arsons are just two of thirteen fire officials say have been intentionally set in this neighborhood.

“I think anytime there is an arson fire we are concerned that’s one of the reasons we have the people we do,” Michael Martin, the Topeka Fire Marshal said.

Courtesy: Topeka Fire Department

“My insurance agent had said there have been a lot in that area and I didn’t really know that,” Bartley said.

The map to the left from Topeka Fire, the red and yellow area indicate the hot bed of arson activity.

“To say that these are not connected would probably be incorrect,” Martin said.

TFD formed a task force two months ago to combat what appears to be a serial arsonist.

“We are consistently working right now with the Topeka Police with the state fire marshal’s office, with the ATF, our department so it is not something that is sitting on the back burner,” Martin said.

Still, victims are frustrated.

“Why somebody would take the time to go into your garage and light your car on fire?” Bartley said.

One thing Bartley is grateful for, is that his garage was saved.

“If my dogs hadn’t woken me up, it probably would’ve been in the same boat as the one in the 1200 block of MacVicar,” Bartley said.

The Topeka Fire Marshal says there have been 57 arsons in Topeka. He says that’s double the national average for a city this size. After Monday morning’s arsons, Bret Bartley says he’ll be buying and installing more lights around his home.

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