WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) - Wausau police say a series of six fires in
15 days could be the work of a serial arsonist.
The most recent fires occurred Wednesday night and Thursday
morning in garages on the city's east side. No one has been jailed,
and investigators say they have not identified any strong suspects.
"There's probably a good possibility that they're all
connected," Wausau Police Inspector Jeff Hardel said. "We don't
have any proof of that right now, but we can't rule that out."
The fires have all occurred at night and within a mile of Wausau
East High School. All but one of the fires have involved garages,
and they have come in pairs.
Some people who live in the neighborhoods where the fires have
been occurring are becoming nervous.
"It's just getting too close," said Patrick Adams, 36.
"Sooner or later they're going to make a mistake and hit a house
that's not empty, and someone's going to die."
Authorities are urging residents in the area to be alert, lock
garages, keep outdoor lights on at night and call police if they
notice anything suspicious.
The first two garage fires happened early May 28. Four days
later, firefighters responded to another garage fire, and while
they were containing it, witnesses reported that a house was on
fire less than 10 blocks away. A firefighter was injured, but not
seriously, while fighting the fire at the house, which was vacant.
Wednesday night, police and firefighters responded just before
midnight to a fire and then received reports an hour later of
another garage fire about five blocks to the north. Neither garage
was destroyed.
"The fact that two garage fires occurred again within an hour
of each other tends to lend some similarity to the past (fires), so
we'll be keeping that in mind as we go through the investigation,"
said Fire Chief Gary Buchberger.
A state fire marshal traveled to Wausau on Thursday to assist in
the investigation and asked to be contacted if another fire breaks
out, Buchberger said.
Fire investigators have ruled the first four fires arson, he
said. They had not determined the cause of the two recent fires but
suspect an arsonist is to blame. Buchberger would not elaborate on
why arson is suspected.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)