Car Arson Spree Hits Plainfield

String of fires started Christmas Eve

By Jeff Goldblatt
|  Monday, Jan 9, 2012  |  Updated 10:42 PM CDT
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String of arsons date back to Christmas Eve.

String of arsons date back to Christmas Eve.

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Fires have happened each of the last three weekends on the same block, of the same street, in the same neighborhood, in far south suburban Plainfield, and investigators say the blazes appear to be intentionally set.

"There are too many common denominators for this not to be arson," said Jon Stratton, Plainfield Fire Department Deputy Chief.

The string of arsons started Christmas Eve in the Arbor Creek subdivision, followed by one New Year's Eve, and three more early Sunday, one of which resulted in 180,000 dollars in damage to a town home.

"I heard a couple of pops. Some kids swearing. Then looked out my window and saw across the street cars on fire," said Quentin Banks who called 911 around 230 a.m. Sunday.

"The whole garage started to melt. The fire became out of control at that point," he said.

By the time Plainfield Fire crews arrived, flames had swallowed the garage of the town home and spread to the second floor. The blaze was contained in 20 minutes, but they also had another arson on their hands on Hazelwood Drive.

All the arsons started inside unlocked vehicles, some of which were located in garages, others in driveways, such as the Ford Escape driven by Steve Daigles.

"That's all he did was torch it. He didn't take anything," said Daigle, who now plans to install surveillance cameras outside his home.

Daigle is now driving a rental car as a replacement for the work vehicle. The arsonist lit his vehicle on fire Sunday morning about the same time firefighters fought the house fire down the street.

"It makes me wonder how safe the neighborhood was that we thought was really safe," said Daigle.

"We're scared. I think a lot of people in the neighborhood are scared. We don't know what's going to happen next," said Daigle's wife, Patrice.

Fire investigators say they've been unable to pinpoint a reason why this street has been targeted. They're urging residents to stay vigilant and keep their homes and vehicle doors locked, while they work feverishly to catch this arsonist.

"Believe me, it's a high priority on all of us," Stratton said.

For residents of this rattled neighborhood, an arrest can't come soon enough.

"They could have killed people. Luckily no one has died in any of these fires. But there are now people, they don't have a home," said Mrs. Daigle.

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