Nervous Summit residents try to get some sleep as Schoharie County fire investigators search for an apparent serial arsonist after two more vehicles were burned in the early-morning hours Monday.
Two vehicles were set ablaze at about 2:25am at another Baldwin Road property, according to Schoharie County Fire Coordinator Matt Brisley. One vehicle was completely destroyed and the other suffered minor fire damage to the exterior of the car.
The heat from the fire that completely destroyed one of the cars melted the siding on a home, Mr. Brisley added.
The latest fires were on the same side of the road, and just a few properties north of the blazes that destroyed three vehicles and a large garage in two fires earlier this month.
The three fires appear to be connected, officials said.
"It looks very suspicious," Mr. Brisley added, noting that there are the "same patterns" in all three fires.
The homeowner on Monday was able to move one of the cars, to prevent further damage, but it appeared that both vehicles were set on fire, according to Mr. Brisley.
Residents are nervous about the fires, Mr. Brisley noted.
"People are sleeping in shifts."
A woman at the home Monday had gone to sleep shortly before the fire, he said.
She then heard a "pop" and saw the glow of the fire outside the window, according to Mr. Brisley.
Firefighters from Summit and Jefferson responded to the scene and there were no injuries.
Officials are still searching for a motive for the fires.
Members of the Sheriff's Office, including Investigator Nelson Armlin, have conducted interviews of residents on the road, according to Sheriff Tony Desmond.
"It's very disconcerting on what's going to happen next," he said.
Police have examined the case and are "looking for a common denominator," Sheriff Desmond added.
"To me, it doesn't make sense."
Questions to be answered, Sheriff Desmond said, are: Why only cars? Why only that road? Where does the arsonist go after setting the fires?
"I don't see any reason for it," he said.
Extra patrols have been put in the area and more will be called in for night coverage, the Sheriff said.
Mr. Brisley advised home owners to keep their outside lights on at night and lock their vehicle doors.
Following these recommendations may not prevent any further fires, but would prevent the inside of cars from being set on fire, he said.
Some of the vehicles were entered before they were set on fire, Mr. Brisley noted.
The first fire was reported on Baldwin Road on the morning of July 2. There was a second fire at the same property on the morning of Tuesday, July 5.
Firefighters from Summit, Jefferson, Richmondville, and Charlotteville responded to a garage fire at about 1:45am last Tuesday, according to Mr. Brisley.
Mr. Brisley noted that the two vehicles that burned on Monday morning were far apart and there was a similar point of origin in all three vehicle fires.
No injuries were reported and family members were sleeping when the fire occurred, officials reported.