Investigators with the Houston Fire Department are searching for a possible serial arsonist as a string of fires continues to plague the Memorial area.
Since December, the suspect or suspects have set at least 11 fires in dumpsters and apartment complexes near Dairy Ashford and Memorial Drive. While sites include schools, parks and convenience stores, most incidents have occurred in residential areas.
"Even a small blaze in a space like can be pretty bad. The flames can travel very quickly and block a potential escape route."
Residents of the Sheffield Square Apartments at 14814 Perthshire witnessed three separate blazes in January, during which newly-arrived phone books were set on fire in public stairwells.
While Sheffield owners Ascension Commercial Real Estate were unable to provide further details, HFD officer Jay Evans tells CultureMap that stairwell fires are particularly dangerous.
"Even a small blaze in a space like that can be pretty bad," he explains. "The flames can travel very quickly and block a potential escape route."
Given that the fires all have taken place within a 15 to 20 block zone, investigators believe the culprit or culprits travel by foot and are likely juveniles.
"We've also found that a number of nearby apartment were broken into around the times of these fires," Evans says. "They coincide, but we're not sure if they're in any way connected yet."
The Houston Fire Department is asking anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS (8477). The organization is offering up to $5,000 for details leading to an arrest.