Five cars set on fire overnight in Columbus Historic District

chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.comMay 18, 2013 

Five cars were set on fire early Saturday morning in the Columbus Historic District, according to residents and the Columbus Fire and Emergency Medical Services.

Most of the cars were in the 500 block of Front Avenue and at least one was in the 500 block of Broadway.

“I heard a loud explosion about 3:20,” said resident Cathy Fussell. She was awakened by an exploding tire on her van, which was torched from the rear.

Columbus Fire and EMS is investigating the fires.

“It appears to be similar to fires in 2006 and 2008,” said Columbus Fire Marshal Ricky Shores. Fussell, however, said her property wasn’t involved in those incidents.

After she was startled awake, Fussell said, she looked out a window onto Front Avenue and saw flames coming out of her 2000 Oldsmovile van, which was parked on the street.

“My first thought was that it was just a car defect,” she said.

Later, she learned none of the cars exploded, just the tires.

“The neighbors are saying they looked underneath and apparently someone put some material inside a cup plastic or paper, I don’t know and set the tires on fire first and then the tires set the cars on fire.”

As she was on the phone while calling 911, Fussell heard her neighbor’s car alarm go off and saw that vehicle also was on fire.

Firefighters and police responded within five minutes, she said. Fussell praised their work, especially for putting out a fire that reached a porch but didn’t spread to the main structure of a home on the corner of Sixth Street and Front Avenue. Her vehicle, however, is a total loss.

“And we had just put money into it to get it spiffed up and serviced,” she said.

Fussell found it curious that some cars were burned on the street, others in driveways and others were completely skipped, but she couldn’t think of any reason why certain families might have been targeted.

“There’s no neighborhood controversy,” she said.

In fact, Fussell remarked how safe folks feel walking around the district at night, such as after Friday night’s shows during the CutBait Music Festival.

“This is a great neighborhood,” she said.

Fussell also insists the case must be solved.

“This person needs to be caught because what he’s doing is so dangerous,” she said. “It’s dangerous, not just naughty.”

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