Weekend fires deemed ‘random acts of arson’

LACONIA — A pair of fires in the early hours of Saturday morning have aroused suspicions among police and fire officials that the incidents could possibly have been committed by whoever is responsible for the spate of random fires that occurred last autumn.

Shortly after 2 a.m. on Saturday firefighters were dispatched to 46 Academy St. where a vehicle was burning. While they were on the scene police reported a second fire on the porch of home at 91 Highland St. Both fires were quickly extinguished, with extensive damage to the rear seat of the vehicle and minor damage to the porch of the residence.

Fire Chief Ken Erickson described both fires as "random acts of arson" similar to those in September and November when vehicles, dumpsters and empty buildings were set afire. Like the fires on Saturday morning, those fires occurred on weekends, late at night or early in the morning.

Police Chief Chris Adams said that while the similarities between the fires cannot be overlooked, the investigation is not based on the assumption that the same person started all the fires.

"We have never stopped working on the case," Adams said, recalling that more than half a dozen similar fires were set in a short period in September. The fire at the occupied residence on Highland Street, he called "a step up," adding "we were concerned before and we're very concerned now."

Both Erickson and Adams urged members of the public to be vigilant and alert. They asked anyone who sees someone behaving suspiciously, especially in the late night or early morning hours, to get a detailed description — height, weight, hair color and clothing — and report their location and direction of travel to the police at once. He said that patrol officers are on the alert for suspects and will respond immediately.