Two Suspected Arson Fires In Three Days

Two suspected arson fires in three nights has investigators working overtime...both in the northeast Omaha area and at this time --- apparently unrelated.

Investigators say in many cases the victim knows the suspect and there is some sort of revenge factor at work.

And it causes a lot more than just damage to one house.

It's a cowardly crime committed under the cloak of darkness.

A fire at a home near 17th and Fowler Avenue early Wednesday morning was quickly deemed intentional by arson investigators..

The fire was started on the back deck of the house and rapidly spread inside.

Firefighters found a plastic gas can in a vacant lot behind the house.

"One of the situations with arson fires in general is that usually there's some sort of accelerant used and that's going to make it more inherently dangerous because the spread of the fire will be a lot quicker a lot more devastating," Assistant Omaha Fire Marshal Jim Gentile said.

Fortunately, no one was hurt.

As the family moves possessions from the house, there are suspicions as to who is responsible.

No one wanted to talk about it on camera.

Part of the problem with solving arson fires is a lack of help from the community. People feel that if somebody's willing to set a house on fire once...they'll do it again.

"The best thing that we can ask the citizens to do is be aware of the vacant houses in your are, just kind of keep your eyes out, Gentile said.

There are suspects in another arson fire that happened Monday at a vacant home near 28th and Manderson.

But there are also plenty of signs as to why people are reluctant to come forward with information.

And even after the fire is out the danger remains. Unsecured homes are attractive to neighborhood kids.

"They have a natural curiosity so we just urge the parents just to explain to your kids just how dangerous it can be the structure could be unstable they could fall through a floor they could cut themselves on broken glass or even fall down on the debris around there so please have your kids stay away from it," Gentile said.

Arson fires also carry severe penalties...one to 50 years in prison. If there's somebody inside at the time...it could be life without parole.

Investigators solve and convict 28% of all arson fires in Omaha...that's about twice the national average.

Anyone with information on these or other fires should contact the Arson Hotline at 444-FIRE or Omaha Police at 444-7867.

Tips can be anonymous and there may be a cash reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.


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