Arson damages apartment complex again

June 1, 2009 12:37:54 PM PDT
For the second time since March a fire has damaged more than a dozen cars in a Concord apartment building parking lot and investigators say it was "deliberately set."

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Three dozen cars were damaged Monday morning in the parking lot of the Northwood apartments in the 3200 block of Northwood Drive. And, it is not the first time.

Officials Monday morning ruled that the fire was deliberately set. They did not say the fires were connected but it certainly appears that way. There was a devastating sense of déjà vu for firefighters who responded to the scene to find burned vehicles, evacuated residents and a treacherous fire, just like the last fire that occurred there two months ago.

Flames could be seen for miles around as they jumped from the burning vehicles to the nearby pine trees and on over to the apartment complex. Firefighters were put to the test.

"All the boxes were checked, as far as the number of things you encounter when you first roll up on a scene. There's 14 cars burning. The gas feeder's exposed. An apartment on fire. And, the fire continuing to really rip down this corridor, described Concord Battalion Chief Dave George.

On March 29th, in the other leg of the same L-shaped parking lot, there was a very similar fire. The cause was arson. Early Monday morning arson investigators had not immediately determined a direct connection between the two fires, although they did see some aspects in common.

"The only similarities are is it's at the same address, same type of location because it's a car port with vehicles underneath it and because they're essentially in the same parking lot" said Captain Randy Champion with the Contra Costa County Fire District.

The fires have neighbors on edge.

"It's a little nerve-wracking because I don't know what's going to happen, if this is a random occurrence, same people... I don't know if they're going to do it to my place or not. So, it's a little scary," said neighbor Steve Schmitt.

The fire back in March injured three people and also destroyed several vehicles including the one Cherie Day owned.

"It was about six cars away from where the fire started on the car and it was completely torched," she told ABC7.

The fire did not bother Day all that much because she moved to Pleasant Hill after the first fire. Others are considering moving as well.

"My husband said to me this morning, 'I think we better move,'" said Day.

Preliminary estimates on the fire were at $450,000. So far, no injuries have been reported. Authorities hope to find the arsonist, or arsonists, before those statistics changed.

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