ROSWELL, N.M. (KRQE) - Investigators in southeast New Mexico suspect a fire bug may be behind a series of house fires in recent weeks.
So far no one's been injured, but the fires have posed some major threats.
Three homes in the 1400 block of South Mulberry Avenue all caught on fire within weeks in Roswell.
"I have to suspect the worst in that case like arson because the ignition sources aren't available that you'd find in accidental fires such as electrical or gas-fired appliances," Roswell Fire Marshal Bill Wells said.
Wells said no one was living in the homes when the fires started, and no gas or electrical meters were connected.
"I think that it started in this area," said Wells, pointing to the front room inside one of the homes. "Because if you look at the baseboards, how they're burned right there."
Wells said holes punched into the walls in the first home could mean whoever sparked the blaze knew how to make it spread.
The fires were days apart, and firefighters were able to keep the fires from spreading through the neighborhood.
Hours before the third home caught fire last week, two large dumpster fires behind the homes were called in. Wells believes it may be the work of an arsonist.
"We usually can get a tab on them and catch them, but once in a while we have to work extra hard to try to find who's doing it," said Wells.
Burnt mattresses in two of the homes show someone could have been sleeping inside. If there is a firebug out there, one of the fire marshal's biggest concerns is that someone seeking shelter inside one of the vacant homes could potentially be killed.
Workers were remodeling one of the homes but weren't there when the third home on the block caught fire.
Wells said if someone was using a fire or candles for warmth in these homes, he hasn't found evidence of it yet.
"We have an idea of what's going on, but without actual proof I can't sit here and tell you that's the case," explained Wells. "It's something that we have to investigate further and try to find the individual or individuals responsible."
Wells is still conducting interviews and has not named any suspects yet. There was another house fire last week in the same area, but the fire marshal determined that one to be an electrical fire.
Anyone that may have seen suspicious activity is asked to call Roswell police, Crime Stoppers or the Roswell Fire Department.
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