Series of Suspicious Fires in Rockford Under Investigation

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Rockford homes and businesses are going up in flames, and fire investigators say it's not something that's causing the blazes, it's someone.

“These fires should not keep happening," Adriese Beauchamp, said.

Rockford's latest arson hit a little too close for comfort for Adriese Beauchamp. Early Monday morning someone threw a molotov cocktail onto the roof of Day Food Mart, right across the street from where Beauchamp works.

"I heard about it but I didn't know it was this close, but it's just something to think about now but just keep praying," she said.

Day Food Mart is the 52nd building in Rockford to go up in flames at the hands of an arsonist this year, but solving an arson isn't easy, and sometimes determining what fires fall into that category is just as hard. In the past month nine vacant homes caught fire, some of which could be arson.

"They've been occupied by homeless people and we do believe some might have been an accidental cause, but we're definitely looking at who's trying to start the fires because they were set intentionally," Rockford Fire Department Division Chief Matt Knott, said.

If firefighters think a fire is intentional they call in investigators to search for evidence and sometimes K9's to pick up the scent of gasoline or accelerants.

"Whether it’s the remnants of a glass bottle, whether it's the actual liquid itself, we take samples of all that and submit it to a crime lab for further analysis," Knott said.

In the case of the Day Food Mart investigators hope video from these security cameras will also help catch their suspect.

The Rockford Fire Department solves about 30 percent of all arsons, it's a low number, but that's actually 10 times higher than the national average.



ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Rockford homes and businesses are going up in flames and fire investigators say it's not something that's causing the blazes, it's someone.

Rockford's latest arson hit a little too close for comfort for Adriese Beauchamp. Early Monday morning someone threw a Molotov cocktail onto the roof of Day Food Mart. Right across the street from where Beauchamp works.

"I heard about it but I didn't know it was this close, but it's just something to think about now but just keep praying," Beauchamp said.

Day Food Mart is the 52nd building in Rockford to go up in flames at the hands of an arsonist this year. But solving an arson isn't easy and sometimes determining what fires fall into that category is just as hard.

In the past month 9 vacant homes caught fire. Rockford Fire Department Division Chief Matt Knott says some of which could be arson.

"They've been occupied by homeless people and we do believe some might have been an accidental cause, but we're definitely looking at who's trying to start the fires because they were set intentionally," Knott said.

If firefighters think a fire is intentional they call in investigators to search for evidence and sometimes K-9's to pick up the scent of gasoline or accelerants.

"Whether its the remnants of a glass bottle, whether it's the actual liquid itself, we take samples of all that and submit it to a crime lab for further analysis," Knott said.

And in the case of the Day Food Mar investigators hope video from these security cameras will also help catch their suspect.

The fire department says the arsons are happening all over the city, not in one particular area. Investigators also don't think any of them are connected.

To prevent these fires especially in vacant homes Knott says we need to call police when we think there's someone in or around a vacant property.

It's a tough job being an arson investigator. The Rockford Fire Department solves about 30% of all arsons. It's a low number but that's actually 10 times higher than the national average.


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