HOUSTON - Twenty-two arsons have been reported since August in a historic Houston neighborhood called the Heights, known more for its comforting small-town feel in the midst of big-city sprawl than for being the center of criminal activity.
Most of the fires have taken place in the middle of the night and nearly always in abandoned structures, though flames have leapt to some adjacent occupied homes, frightening residents.
Authorities charged a suspect last month for starting one of the blazes. But he has not been charged with any of the other arsons, and the fires continued even after his arrest. Residents of the Heights, which sits on one of Houston’s few hills overlooking nearby downtown, have taken some comfort no one has been hurt. But they worry that their property could be next.
Diane Kight, who lives across the street from a house set ablaze on Nov. 11, said she was recently driving home and saw a firetruck, and immediately worried it could be speeding to her house. “It’s scary,’’ she said.
The fires have kept to the Heights, a neighborhood of more than 40,000 residents. Its streets are lined by majestic trees and stately Victorian-styled houses. The locally owned antiques and coffee shops and art galleries give it a laid-back atmosphere.
The arsonist targets mostly older, unoccupied houses, garages, storage sheds, and other structures.