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Officials: Arson possible cause of three recent Rockford fires

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Over the last three days The Rockford Fire Department has had several abandoned homes destroyed in flames.

Investigators have called the fires suspicious, and are searching for answers.

Syvel Bannister lives next to an abandoned house on Pope Street which burned early Monday morning.

“It was about 4 o’clock in the morning, and I smelt a faint smell of smoke,” Bannister said.

Bannister came out of his house to find smoke coming from the house next door. Once he called 911, he says Rockford Fire was there in under five minutes.

While crews extinguished that fire, they noticed that someone had also started a fire inside another abandoned house.

Chris Tumeo, Investigator of the Rockford Fire Department explained how it didn’t take the firefighters long to determine the fires weren’t an accident, and possibly started by the same person.

“To insure that the security of the building was intact — there was no one in there — we entered the building to see if anybody needed assistance or anything,” Tumeo said. “That’s when we discovered some extinguished fires in there.”

RFD is investigating three arson fires which took place within three days, with the first being Friday night at an apartment complex on Underwood Street.

“There was no one home in that apartment at that time. We haven’t made contact with the Rockford Housing Authority to determine if the person had moved out or not,” Tumeo said. “We look for common denominators. Whether they’re the same property owners, same suspects that we may have developed, or general location. Stuff like that they might determine that there’s a possibility that they’re connected.”

Now, neighbors are worried about a fire spreading to their home.

“Hopefully a house where someone is living in doesn’t catch fire because of one of these, you know one of these abandon houses,” Bannister said.

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