Crews investigating suspected arson at abandoned apartments

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – The Jonesboro Fire Department suspects that someone set a fire intentionally at an abandoned apartment complex.

Fire crews say the same apartment at 2003 Belt Street has caught fire not once, but twice recently. The latest fire happened Monday morning around 9:30 a.m.

Neighbors now worry that their homes will be targeted next since someone allegedly set two fires in the same building just nine days apart.

"We've got to find out what's causing this," said Rickey Sanders of Jonesboro.

Sanders first reported the fire Monday after returning home from grocery shopping.

"I saw a bunch of flames. I called 911," he said. "[The fire department] came out. They did a great job."

Jonesboro fire crews put out the blaze quickly at the abandoned apartment building, but Sanders and his neighbors say they have seen firefighters in the area far too often recently.

"I'm tired of it," Sanders said. "The reason I'm tired of it is because arson. It could be my apartment instead of the ones that are empty."

The fire department snuffed out flames at the same apartment near Sanders on January 26.

"We were here over a week ago for the same apartment fire," said Jonesboro fire division chief Marty Hamrick, "so probably I guess they finished the job from what we had last time."

Hamrick says no one has lived in the apartment or the building where the fires occurred in almost a year.

"When we were here last time, the owner told us these have been vacant eight months," he added.

Jason Wills, the Jonesboro fire marshal, has now started his investigation to determine how the fire started and who likely set it.

Police have yet to make any arrests in connection with the fires, and there are no known suspects.

A neighbor told Region 8 News off-camera that she saw a white man near the apartment a few days ago that she did not recognize. She said he disappeared around the corner of the building before she could get a proper look at him.

Until the suspected arsonist is caught, Sanders says he will try to protect his family and friends by keeping a closer watch on his neighborhood.

"That way we can get the face, name or body – whatever," Sanders said. "We need to watch out for this stuff."

The fire marshal's office could now use the public's help to solve this case.

Anyone with information is asked to call either Jonesboro Crimestoppers at 870-935-STOP or the Jonesboro Fire Marshal's Office at 870-932-2428.

Any information that people share will remain anonymous.

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