BY NUBIA REYNA | STAFF WRITER
Residents continue to remain on alert following a house fire last week that left the house and seven other units heavily damaged by someone they believe to be an “arsonist.”
The fires happened Aug. 9 at East 9th and East Monroe streets and residents fear a person intentionally set the fires and will continue to set buildings ablaze around the neighborhood. The cause of the fires remains under investigation.
Clementina Gordillo, who lives next to the units that burned, said she saw a man, whom she knows and identified, walking outside the units where the fire started. She believed he was carrying a container of gasoline. She said a few minutes later after she saw him the units were in flames.
“I was outside doing my laundry and I saw him carrying a container. I went back inside to my house and by the time I came out again the whole place was on fire,” she said in Spanish on Thursday.
Gordillo said she was hanging her clothes outside to dry and by the time she came back outside to dry the second batch the place was blazing already. She said the suspect lived in the area and left in “bad terms” with the landlord.
Gordillo said she already talked with officials in charge of investigating the fire and has told them who she believes the suspect is and the history behind him. She was asked if she would be willing to go to court and testify, she said. Gordillo said she would go to court because she is very scared and recently saw the man she believes is starting the fires walking down her street.
Fire Marshal Daniel Villarreal said authorities continue to investigate the fires and that there is a person of interest who the neighbors identified. He said they are waiting to receive samples from the fire scene back from the State laboratory to proceed.
“We are still working on the investigation. We have a person of interest that the neighbors identified as suspicious. The fire was of suspicious nature (and) we have taken some samples from the fire’s scene and sent them over to the State’s laboratory. But as of now, we are going to wait until we receive those samples back from the State before we proceed.”
Two months ago another fire was set by someone at a property near where the Aug. 9, fire happened. Landlords believe it was a different person since the fire happened in the middle of the night and there were no eyewitnesses.
Gordillo said she fears the person who is starting the fires will soon return because she has seen him around the neighborhood.
“I told (officers) yesterday, or two days ago, that I am very scared because he is free on the streets and I’m just here waiting for him to set my house on fire, too,” Gordillo said. “They’re not doing anything. I told them that I saw him and they’re not doing anything.”