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Police searching for arsonist who is believed to have set 16 fires

<i>WISN via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Fires were set in less than three hours
WISN via CNN Newsource
Fires were set in less than three hours

By Nick Bohr

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    MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin (WISN) — Milwaukee police and fire investigators are trying to find whoever started at least 16 fires Tuesday morning on the city’s north side.

One fire started in garbage carts pulled between two homes, which could have been a catastrophe as the flames had spread to two houses. And it wasn’t an accident. Investigators are calling it a string of arsons Tuesday morning.

Marlena Moore had to flee her burning house.

“Y’all is causing these fires, my kids could’ve died from smoke inhalation, they could’ve died of anything,” she said as she watched firefighters spray water into her home.

“People work hard for their stuff, for you all to go around burning people’s stuff down? You could’ve killed these kids, innocent babies,” she added.

The mother of three said she was lucky to escape.

“We had to get the kids out of the house, had to get the dog out of the house, the babies were still sleeping,” Moore said.

Her home was one of four damaged in a total of 16 arson incidents Tuesday morning between 7:30 a.m. and 10 a.m., with most started in garbage carts.

“We would respond. We’d get to the alley (and) we would discover numerous garbage carts on fire running down the alley or numerous buildings involved,” Milwaukee Fire Chief Aaron Lipski said Tuesday afternoon.

Those fires were centered in two general areas about 5 miles apart. First around 49th and Center streets and then around 9th and Locust streets.

The fire chief said it’s not clear yet if any fuel or flammable liquid was added to the garbage to get it going. More pressing, they don’t know who is doing it.

“This represents a tremendous risk to the public,” Lipski said. “The areas that whoever is responsible for this has chosen are uniquely susceptible to fire spread given the close spacing of these homes, the wood frame cladding and exteriors to these homes. We implore whoever is doing this to cease this activity.”

The fire chief said the department was spread thin responding to so many fires in such short order. He said they received assistance from firefighters in Wauwatosa, North Shore and St. Francis.

The Milwaukee Fire Department said no residents were hurt, but a Milwaukee firefighter did suffer minor injuries.

City officials announced a $5,000 reward is being offered for credible tips leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for the fires.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the State of Wisconsin Arson Investigation Hotline at 1-800-362-3005 or the Milwaukee Police Department at 414-935-7360. Anonymous tips can be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 414-224-Tips or through P3 Tips.

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