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Crime & Courts

Police seek help to catch arsonist after Ridgebook Apartment fires

Latest fires at complex similar to those that caused chaos at building in June 2018, police say

DeKALB – A new spate of fires at an apartment building that was the scene of multiple arsons last year has police seeking the public’s help to catch the firebug.

About 9 a.m. Wednesday, DeKalb police and firefighters were called to the Ridgebrook Apartments, 808 Ridge Drive, where they discovered a couple of fires had been set in a common area. The fires had already gone out when police arrived and caused only a small amount of damage, police Cmdr. Bob Redel said. The fires discovered Wednesday were similar to those set last year, he said.

On Sunday morning, authorities were called after a resident discovered a fire burning in a common laundry room in the building. The resident was able to put the fire out with water from their apartment, Redel said. That fire is considered suspicious as well, he said.

“We’ve got somebody that’s starting fires. We don’t know who it is, so we’re trying to identify them and get this stopped,” Redel said. “... We’re going to give it as much extra patrolling as we can do.”

Police are asking anyone who sees suspicious activity in the area, no matter how minor it might seem, to contact them by calling 815-748-8400. Anonymous tips can be shared by calling Crime Stoppers at 815-895-3272.

Officers, who have gone door-to-door talking with residents, will be walking the halls of the building and have an increased presence in response to the recent incidents, Redel said.

Hunter Properties, which owns the building, also plans to have added security on hand, he said.

The reports are similar to a series of incidents in June 2018, which included multiple fires being set in common areas of the building. One intentionally set blaze, which was started on the second floor, led to the evacuation of the building. Another was set while emergency personnel were inside the building, authorities have said.

Investigators aren’t sure how the fires have been set, or whether the offender is an adult or a child, Redel said. All they know is that they have to be stopped.

“Hopefully somebody will call us with information,” Redel said. “Hopefully, somebody will see something.”

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