Five vehicle fires in the same area in the last two weeks are being investigated as related and the possible work of an arsonist, Plainfield Deputy Fire Chief Jon Stratton said Sunday night.
The took place Christmas Day, the second New Year's Eve, and the on early Sunday morning, Stratton said.
Each started inside a vehicle in the 16000 block of Hazelwood Drive. Three of which were parked in town home driveways, two inside town home garages and all were unlocked, Stratton said.
"It seems like (they're related)," Stratton said. "Nothing really is the same (in terms of what's being used to start the fires). It appears they're using items that are readily available."
The suspect or suspects are brazen, he said, in that they've targeted occupied homes and either entered unlocked garages or vehicles with unlocked doors.
More than two dozen investigators combed over the fire scenes Sunday, and they'll work with insurance company engineers Monday in an attempt to pinpoint the source of each blaze, he said.
The first Sunday call came in to the t at 2:28 a.m., and firefighters were at the 16777 Hazelwood home within five minutes, he said. The garage was fully engulfed when they arrived, and spread into the second floor, eaves and roof before firefighters were able to contain it in about 20 minutes, Stratton said.
Just as Plainfield firefighters were beginning to work on the fire, Stratton said he received a call that two cars were on fire in a cul-de-sac about four doors to the east. The departement's priority was stopping the house fire from spreading, so the car fires basically burned themselves out without because they did not endanger any other property, he said.
The Reinhart family, whose 16777 Hazelwood house was left uninhabitable, were lucky to have escaped the blaze given that two of the home's bedrooms were over the garage, Stratton said. Things could have turned out differently had the owner's son not returned home from a neighbor's house when the fire was still in the garage, giving him time to alert his mother, brother and another family member or guest inside, he said.
The Christmas Day fire was discovered at about 10 a.m. when a family member went into the garage to retrieve Christmas presents and saw smoke coming from one of two vehicles inside. In that case, the bulk of the damage was contained to the garage.
As for the New Year's Ever fire, it was limited to a car parked in the driveway in the same block, he said.
There have been no injuries in any of the fires.