Fire officials alerting neighbors about downtown arsonist

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston City Police are on the lookout for an arsonist who may be connected to more than 50 fires in the downtown area over the past decade.

"With a young one, you want to make sure the house is as safe as it can be for them," Fredrik Smith, downtown resident, said.

Smith said he's protecting his home and family, not just from fires, but from arsonists.

Fire officials gave Smith and other neighbors living in the Elliottborough and Cannonborough neighborhoods several tips to spot the suspect, who usually strikes in the early morning hours.

"There's very few people moving on the street that time of night, so anyone that sees anything, hears anything, really needs to report it," Fire Marshal Mike Julazadeh said.

Julazadeh attended a community meeting at the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum to make sure neighbors are aware and don't become the next target.

He said fire fighters have been going door-to-door in this area warning neighbors since June.

That's when four different fires broke out. Then in July, officials say a house on Cannon Street was set on fire, as well as a trash can.

Those are just the most recent cases.

Authorities said they need neighbors to be on the lookout.

"They're our eyes and ears at night. We obviously don't have enough police officers to put on every street corner," Julazadeh said.

Authorities also recommend leaving your porch light on at night, and if you have any indoor furniture on your porch, like a couch, bring it in. He said several fires have been started on porches.

Fire officials even suggest putting a smoke alarm on your porch.

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