String of fires in Laveen at vacant properties sparks investigation into possible serial arsonist

Laveen is on edge after a series of fires over the last few weeks.

While no connection has been made, the Phoenix Fire Department is investigating if the fires could be related.

A home at 67th Avenue and Baseline Road went up in flames on May 13, the latest fire to occur in the Laveen neighborhood.

In April, a much larger fire happened at a construction development a few blocks away on 59th Avenue and Baseline Road.

That fire was ruled an arson and officials are working to locate a person they have identified as a suspect.

What are neighbors saying about the fires?

"It's kind of sad to see that go and burn down," said Brett Wescott, who lives in Laveen.

Since that early April fire, nearly half a dozen other fires have erupted in the small area of Laveen.

"You could say one is too many fires but if there's four in two weeks and three in a week, that's not safe," Wescott said.

In the last few days, residents have started to notice more homes beings set ablaze. Most of them are vacant properties.

Brett and his wife Marcy say that like other neighbors, they have seen the fires and fire department responses on social media.

"It's kind of scary," Marcy said. "What if they head over our way?"

What is the fire department saying about the fires?

Captain Rob McDade of the Phoenix Fire Department has noticed the uptick in activity too.

"Our job is to say, ‘how did these fires start? Are they connected?’" he said.

He said there are resources to report concerns about vacant homes for neighbors.

Captain McDade noted the most common thread in the fires are that they are all vacant homes.

The homes are all located within a few square miles of each other:

  • 40th Avenue and Southern Avenue
  • 67th Avenue and Baseline Road
  • 51st Avenue and Roeser Road
  • 59th Avenue and Dobbins Avenue

Captain McDade said that owners need to stay diligent with the upkeep of vacant properties for the safety of neighbors and firefighters.

"It would be a dereliction of duty for us if we didn't at least look into (if they) are related and that - for us - would mean if there is a serial arsonist, (it's) our job to make sure we catch them. We don't know that right now, but we certainly need to make sure there isn't," Captain McDade said.