9 Vehicles Set on Fire Overnight in Fort Worth - NBC New York
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9 Vehicles Set on Fire Overnight in Fort Worth



    Fort Worth Investigators Search for Serial Arsonist

    Nine vehicles were torched in the Hemphill Street and Berry Avenue area of Fort Worth Saturday morning. Arson investigators said the cars were intentionally set on fire. (Published Monday, April 7, 2014)

    Fire investigators are looking for a serial arsonist after at least nine vehicles were torched in Fort Worth Saturday morning.

    911 operators began to receive numerous reports of car fires on the south side of Fort Worth beginning at around 4 a.m. The fire department said all of the burned vehicles were found near Hemphill Street and Berry Avenue.

    On Monday, the Fort Worth Arson Bomb Squad said the car fires spanned a two and a half mile area, and all happened within a half an hour.

    According to arson investigators, the cars were lit intentionally, but why remains a mystery.

    The Fralia family's 2002 Ford F-350 diesel was burned to a crisp. Investigators said it looks like the fire was set at the front driver's side tire. The windshield melted onto the dash. The couple's barking dogs got them up around 4 a.m.

    Caroline Fralia said “I came running out, try to grab the hose and as I'm calling 911 to give them our address and tell them our car's on fire the 911 operator goes, 'Don't you live at 46?' and I go, 'No, I live at 47,' and she said, 'Well we've got another fire down there,' and I thought, 'Oh my gosh.'"

    Whoever got their kicks destroying at least nine vehicles, including the Fralia's pickup truck, likely wasn't counting on a surveillance camera above the Fralia’s front door pointed right at them.

    The video, which investigators downloaded onto a disk, shows a dark car pull up on the other side of the street and go out of frame. Moments later a white crew cab pickup truck pulls up behind it and stays in the frame. Seconds later you see movement of someone’s head bobbing by the driver's side window of her truck. Then you see a bright flash, the truck’s burning and the two vehicles take off.

    Joe Edwards' truck was another one of the torched vehicles. Edwards woke up early Saturday morning with his car on fire. His wife showed NBC 5 security camera video, that showed what appeared to be a truck and another vehicle passing by, before the truck burst into flames.

    “Financially it will almost ruin us,” Edwards said.

    “There are just no words to describe it. It is a total loss of a vehicle I depended on to crank it up and go to work,” Edwards said.

    “I don’t have anything to say to those people except leave people alone. If you earn it fine, but if you don’t earn it, keep your hands off it,”  Edwards said.

    Fort Worth police said the fire starters hit nine cars from about 4 a.m. to 4:45 a.m. all within a couple of miles of each other.

    Most of the fires were started in the Ryan Place neighborhood, where Marsha Henderson had her 10-year-old Toyota minivan parked.

    "The fire department was down the street,” said Henderson. “They saw it catch on fire so they got here really quickly. They didn't run any sirens or anything. “They were working another fire one block down."

    Vehicle owners are glad the fire didn't spread beyond their cars and that no one was hurt, but they are angry.

    "It inconveniences me. It's going to cost me a lot of money to replace it and it'll have a ripple effect. It's a stupid, senseless crime," said Henderson.

    "I really would like to get them caught because someone else may not be as fortunate as me," said Fralia, who added she hopes this didn’t happen to someone who had to wake up and go to work Saturday morning.

    Investigators are working leads, and told NBC 5 that eight cars were parked legally in the street, and one was in a driveway.

    Many of the vehicles are total losses.

    Investigators hope surveillance video, in addition to any other evidence or tips they get, lead to some quick arrests.

    The fire department said this is a rapidly evolving investigation. Anyone who may have information relating to the identity of the person responsible for the car fires can call 817-469-8477 (TIPS).

    People who call with information will remain anonymous and may collect up to $1,000 reward if the tip leads to an arrest and conviction, said the Fort Worth Fire Department.

    NBC 5's Dulce Hernandez and Julie Fine contributed to this story.