GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Investigators say five suspicious fires that sparked within hours of each other Monday on Grand Rapids’ northwest side appear to be connected and to have been intentionally set.
The Grand Rapids Professional Firefighters Local 366 group says the fires happened within blocks of each other between 1:27 p.m. and 8:08 p.m. and damaged four garages, four vehicles and one motorcycle. Crews also battled two trash fires. No one was hurt.
One of the fires around 1:45 p.m. on Power Avenue NW near 11th Street NW engulfed two garages and a vehicle before crews could arrive. Another happened a few blocks southeast on Tamarack Avenue NW near Walker Avenue. Two alley garages and a vehicle were damaged in that fire. Crews also responded to fires at a vehicle in a parking lot and also in a recycle bin behind a building, both near Leonard Street.
Grand Rapids Fire Department Lt. Bill Smith told 24 Hour News 8 there’s a “strong possibility” the fires are connected.
“That stuff doesn’t happen around here. All of the sudden, last night it did,” one man who lives in the neighborhood told 24 Hour News 8.
One of the fires happened in Anthony Ruetz’s backyard.
“I just noticed a little bit of smoke coming out,” Ruetz explained. “When I came out, there was just flames spewing everywhere.”
Ruetz and others who live in the area said they’re grateful the flames didn’t spread to any homes.
“One house fire, each one is close. Everyone was scared,” Elena Gheorghio said.
Anna Marie Alt said she spotted a group of kids yelling and running away from the scene of one of the fires. She wonders if those kids are responsible.
“Somebody’s going to get hurt,” Alt said.
The Grand Rapids Police Department is investigating the fires and talking with witnesses to determine who may be responsible. Anyone with information in these cases is encouraged to contact police at 616.456.3400 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345.