The Division of State Fire Marshal recently announced they are seeking the public’s help in retrieving information regarding three house fires that occured over the span of about a week, all within several blocks of each other.
The fires occurred Monday, Dec. 5 at 206 West Laurel St., Thursday, Dec. 8 at 224 Park St. and Tuesday, Dec. 13 at 212 West Emerald St.
The Willard fire department responded to the scenes at the time of the incidents. The investigations are being led by the fire marshal but are being conducted in conjunction with the Willard Police Department and the fire department.
“These incidents have not been determined to be related at this time,” the fire marshal’s report stated.
At least one Willard resident, Rudy Reyes, thinks otherwise.
“It’s hard to say,” Reyes said. “It’s too much of a coincidence. Three houses in the same area of the same neighborhood. My son called me a couple days ago and said, ‘There’s another house burning right across from my garage.’ Another was a street over and the other was just down the road.”
Reyes said this wasn’t the only reason he had doubts though.
“It’s real strange, especially with the incident we had a few weeks ago,” he said. “A few weeks ago we had an incident at our house and I called the police. ... There was somebody that came to my house saying something about they want to talk to my child.”
The inquiry and conversation that followed seemed strange to Reyes and made him feel uncomfortable so he called the police, alerting them of some suspicious persons in the area.
“Nobody was saying anything about the fires though until I called the Norwalk Reflector,” Reyes said.
“So somebody knows about it. Those houses are almost completely burned. The other one looks like it started on the porch, someone said it started in the basement but I don’t know. If you look at it, it looks like it started on the porch.
“Thank God nobody got hurt, but what would happen if someone was in the those houses when there was the fire?”
This was the thought that scared Reyes the most, or worse, what if his house was next?
“I have a baby and I don’t want anyone to get hurt,” Reyes said. “ What if it happened at my house and someone was home? I think the police could do something, patrol around the area more or something.”
Another Willard parent expressed her fear on Facebook.
“(This) has me scared to death, especially since we live on Park Street,” Jacquelyn Ann Panuto said. “Seems too coincidental to be random.”
“Even a small piece of information can make a difference to our investigators,” State Fire Marshal Larry L. Flowers said. “If you saw anything around the time of the fires, please let us know.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the State Fire Marshal’s Fire & Explosion Investigation Bureau at 1-800-589-2728 or Willard Police Department at 419-933-2561.