- Special Sections
- Public Notices
The Lancaster County Sheriff's Office and Lancaster Police Department are investigating what appears to be a rash of arsons over the weekend.
The fires, at vacant homes in Indian Land and Lancaster, share similarities with fires at an Old Hillside Drive mobile home Friday morning in that firefighters were called back to the scenes after extinguishing fires there earlier.
In the Old Hillside Drive case, investigators suspect someone set fire to a pickup truck about 5 a.m. while the owner was away and returned less than 30 minutes after firefighters left the scene at 5:48 a.m. to set the mobile home itself on fire.
Chesterfield Avenue fire
According to a Lancaster Police incident report, the Lancaster Fire Department was called to a home at 901 Chesterfield Ave. just before midnight Friday, where they found a baby seat burning on the front porch, causing "moderate" damage to the wall before it was put out.
The report said investigators found several D-size batteries burned beside the baby seat and an old plastic two-liter bottle nearby filled with what appeared to be dry rice.
Investigators also found a large kerosene can in the porch corner with the top off and an old soda bottle inside, both of which were empty and dry and did not appear to have been the source of an accelerant, the report said.
After clearing the scene about 12:25 a.m., firefighters were called back to the Chesterfield Avenue home at 2:50 a.m., where they found what investigators described as an "unknown object" burning at the bottom of a flight of stairs leading to the second floor. The report said someone had torn through a screen to reach the stairs.
As firefighters investigated a second spot found outside where someone had burned a pile of papers in an attempt to set fire to the east side of the house, they noticed smoke coming out of the eaves on the second floor.
Inside the room at the top of the stairs, firefighters found a wooden chair and set of window blinds smoldering on the floor. Like the fire at the bottom of the stairs, the fire was quickly extinguished with a water hose.
The report noted that firefighters had also been called to the Chesterfield Avenue home, which is about a mile and a half from the Old Hillside Drive location, on May 30.
Indian Land fire
With four fires at two locations in the Lancaster area Friday and Saturday, it was Panhandle firefighters' turn to deal with suspicious fires Sunday.
Lancaster County Fire Marshal Stephen Blackwelder said Indian Land, Charlotte Road/Van Wyck and Pleasant Valley firefighters responded to a call about 9:30 a.m. at 431 Charles Pettus Road off of U.S. 521 in Indian Land.
Firefighters brought the fire under control and cleared the scene by 11:30 a.m.
Blackwelder said the fire appeared suspicious right away since it appeared to have started inside the abandoned wood frame home, which was without electricity.
The departments' suspicions were confirmed, Blackwelder said, when firefighters were called back to the home that night, to find the home fully engulfed in flames.
"The same units got called right back and it was burning again," Blackwelder said. "If you had a rekindle, it wouldn't have taken 12 hours to rekindle."
According to the sheriff's office incident report, investigators later found evidence someone had set the fire in an interior hallway using an accelerant.
Lancaster County Sheriff's Office Maj. Matt Shaw said detectives are "running down leads" from the Old Hillside Drive and Charles Pettus Road fires, but declined to release any further information.
He also declined to say if his office had a suspect or characterize the fires as related.
"At this point, it's still a little early to say anything like that," Shaw said.