ATF to help Gary authorities investigate suspicious fires
GARY, Ind. (AP) — The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will help the Gary police and fire departments investigate a series of recent suspicious fires, authorities said Tuesday.
Firefighters from throughout Lake and Porter counties worked Saturday night and early Sunday to extinguish blazes at 17 vacant buildings in 11 different locations throughout Gary, Fire Chief Sean O’Donnell said.
Some of the structures were fully engulfed when firefighters arrived, he said.
No injuries were reported among residents or firefighters, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.
Gary Mayor Jerome Prince said the city’s fire and police departments immediately began an investigation and it became clear the city needed to seek all the resources it could to bring anyone who might be responsible to justice.
A rash of seven fires on April 21 was also considered suspicious and will be investigated as well, he said.
Police Chief Brian Evans said high winds Saturday night contributed to the fires’ growth, and officials were grateful the blazes didn’t spread further.
Authorities are forming a team of fire investigations, crime scene detectives and others to try to determine if the fires are connected, Evans said.
Prince said he believed many of the burned buildings were already slated for demolition.