Fire investigators hunt for serial arsonist

By: Jonathan Martin Email
By: Jonathan Martin Email

April 4, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Richmond County fire investigators need your help in finding who's starting fires in Augusta.

Investigators say three recent fires downtown in the Harrisburg area were no accident, and they believe the same person or group is responsible.

Fire investigators say some leads are coming in, but no one has been arrested yet. They are determined to catch this arsonist, who they say is responsible for displacing five families.

The Lipscomb family was able to take just a few things from their burned out Harrisburg home. Inside, Denise Lipscomb showed us that fire had taken everything else.

Investigators say the blaze was a result of arson.

"It's very upsetting," Denise said.

Fire investigators say someone intentionally set an abandoned home on fire Monday morning. The fire spread across to the Lipscomb home, leaving Denise and her family homeless.

"We feel like there's somebody playing with fire in the area," said fire investigator Lt. G.B. Hannan.

Lt. Hannan believes the same person who set the Lipscomb home on fire is also responsible for burning out an abandoned home just a few doors down, and for the huge fire destroying three buildings on Broad Street last week.

All three fires happened in the Harrisburg area within the last three weeks.

Authorities say they will catch the arsonist. They're now offering a reward of up to $10,000.

"We're asking the public, no matter what they've seen, no matter how small they think it is, we need to know it," Lt. Hannan said.

And even though the Lipscombs have to start over, they're not angry. They say they just want the person or people responsible to know that they're destroying much more than structures.

"Whoever is setting the fires needs to look at the fact they're not only affecting these houses they think are abandoned, but people are losing their homes and you're rendering them homeless," Denise said.

Lt. Hannan says they have two suspects right now, but no one is in custody.

There was a problem with arson in this same area in 2005. One man was arrested then. Investigators are questioning him now, but he is not a suspect.

Investigators expect to make an arrest before then end of next week.

If you know anything about these fires, please call authorities at 706-821-2929. You can remain anonymous and get up to $10,000 in reward money.

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