Residents report fears of arsonist to Warren Council

WARREN – Members of the Kenmore Neighborhood Association told City Council on Wednesday that they are being terrorized by an arsonist and a possible burglar.

One resident, who lives at 1047 Kenmore Ave., said the arsonist set fire to her Chevrolet Cobalt at about 4 a.m. May 10, destroying it and heavily damaging her husband’s GMC Envoy vehicle.

Later that morning, it was learned that a late model Volkswagen parked at 1117 Rogers Ave. S.E. also was set on fire.

The resident, who declined to give her name, told council that after she placed surveillance cameras around her house, they picked up footage of a man moving flowers on her deck. A check of the area showed that her propane tank had been moved under a window and an attempt made to set the flowers on fire.

Shortly after 3:30 a.m. Monday, a 1997 GMC Jimmy was set on fire at 1005 Kenmore Ave. S.E.

Between the three fires, seven vehicles were damaged, according to residents and police reports. Four burglaries were reported in the area between May 10 and Monday.

Lisa Bonk, also a Kenmore Avenue resident, told City Council that the residents in the neighborhood are scared, many of them waking up at about 4 a.m. every morning expecting to hear the sounds of tires exploding in fires.

While appreciative of the work of the fire department, Bonk questioned why the police did not come in the neighborhood on the nights of the fire.

Fire Chief Ken Nussle said based on his department’s investigation, they believe this is the work of a single individual.

“Resident have to remain vigilant and working together,” Nussle said.

Councilman Vince Flask, D-5th Ward, said he was at the scene on the morning of the fires.

“My home and cell phone went off,” he said. “I had residents who were terrified. I didn’t know what to say.”

The fires and the burglaries that have been happening in the area have brought an already tight community even closer, he said.

Safety Service Director Enzo Cantalamessa said while the investigations of suspicious fires is the responsibility of the fire department, the city will place emphasis in making sure police are involved in the future.

Elizabeth Balint, a Kenmore Avenue resident and community activist, said one of the group’s biggest concern is the lack of police presence.

“They are in the area in the day, but not at night,” Balint said. “Our neighborhood is just coming back. We don’t want something like this to frighten people.”

Cantalamessa said the city can make sure to have more police cars driving through the neighborhood in the early morning hours when the fires have been set.

Mayor Doug Franklin said the city would put all of its resources into apprehending the arsonist.