Arlington County fire officials are working to solve a rash of suspected arsons that have damaged houses in a small section of the Nauck area of South Arlington.
Deputy fire marshall Buck Swartz said that in the past 14 months, there have been two sequences of four fires each in the neighborhood bordering South 16th Road, South 19th Street, South Glebe Road and South Edgewood Street.
They included two fires in the area this past weekend.
A 16-year-old boy who is a suspect in four of the incidents has been arrested and charged with one count of arson, Swartz said, and further charges may be filed against him. But officials have no suspect in the other four fires, which they believe were set by one person.
All the fires started during early morning hours and were set with materials available inside the houses, most of which were vacant and under renovation or construction, Swartz said.
The first fire occurred at 2800 S. 19th St. at 1:05 a.m. Dec. 9, 1980. The house was under construction and nearly complete, and damages were estimated at $90,000, Swartz said.
The next fire, at 12:55 a.m. on Sept. 11, 1981, took place in a vacant house undergoing renovation at 2901 S. 18th St. It caused an estimated $35,000 in damages. A third fire, in an unoccupied house at 2919 S. 17th Rd. on Nov. 28, 1981 at 12:55 a.m., also caused an estimated $35,000 in damages, Swartz said. A fourth fire occurred at 1635 S. Edgewood St., in an apartment building being refurbished, on Jan. 30 at 1:27 a.m., and damages were estimated at $40,000, he said.
The second sequence of incidents, for which the arrest was made, began about 2 a.m. on Jan. 22, in a home occupied by Gwendolyn Hargrove and her two children, Swartz said.
Hargrove was awakened by noise and found that someone had set fire to the kitchen door. She called the fire department immediately and damages were limited to about $200, Swartz said.
Three days later, at 2:40 a.m. on Jan. 25, Hargrove again reported hearing someone trying to set her house afire. The next day, Hargrove found a burned newspaper protruding from the gas tank of her car.
On Jan. 30, the vacant house across the street from Hargrove's, at 3649 S. Four Mile Run, was set afire at 4:18 a.m.--just a few hours after the fire at 1635 S. Edgewood St., Swartz said.
"I have been to the citizen associations in that area and told them we have a problem in that area, but they know that," Swartz said. "We're limited in manpower and we can't be everywhere, so we need every little bit of assistance we can get.
"We've asked them to be on the lookout for strange people, or cars cruising around late at night," he said, adding that the formation of "neighborhood watch groups" has been encouraged.
Information may be reported anonymously, Swartz said, by telephoning the fire marshall's office, at 558-2481, or the police department's major crimes section, 558-2933.