An arsonist in Williamsport has city officials and residents working together to stop the crime spree.
City officials held a public meeting Monday night with Newberry residents to give and take feedback about this rash of fires.
Investigators said with no leads or suspects, they need the community’s help in capturing the arsonist.
The West End Christian Community Center was packed with concerned and angered residents from Williamsport’s Newberry section after word that an arsonist has been setting fires throughout the community.
“You’re saying that you’re looking at protecting the taxpayers, you’re looking at doing that, then do it,” said one resident.
City officials said 11 fires have been set in that neighborhood since the beginning of April.
They called the meeting to sit down with residents in the hopes of catching whoever is behind this.
“I’m also concerned about the fact of how many fires there were in a row,” said Williamsport Police Chief Gregory Foresman. “Now because of so much interest that has taken place, now this person has kind of stopped and become sporadic.”
“This is nonsense. and I believe our team will catch this person that’s responsible for committing this arson. We’re not going to put up with it,” said Mayor Gabe Campana, “and we’re going to need your assistance.”
Investigators said two of the fires were set on the same day just blocks from each other April 24. The porch of a vacant home was torched on Dove Street and a nearby dumpster was also set on fire.
Police said before that, fires were set at three other locations.
“They torched a trailer on a side street just below our son’s home,” said resident Jane George.
Officials brought a map with pinpoints showing the locations of the fire. Investigators said all 11 fires have similarities. They added someone is torching items or debris left out around buildings in the overnight hours.
“We need everyone to be diligent on making sure they don’t have stuff sitting around the outside of their house. Those are targets for arson,” said Williamsport Fire Chief Dean Heinbach.
“First of all, leave their lights on, both front porch and back porch lights,” said Newberry community organizer Alannah Gabriel. “And also just be aware of anybody in the neighborhood or any movement that you may hear, especially late at night.”
The Williamsport police chief said patrols have been beefed up in the Newberry neighborhood and they want residents to call with anything they feel is suspicious immediately.
Residents are asked to call the Williamsport police arson hotline at 570-327-7575.