Suspicious fires spark concern, neighbors remove porch furniture

(John Gaddy/WCIV)

By Natalie

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Hampton Rosenzweig stood beside the couch on his porch as he told the story of the wake up call he got when the Cannon Street home next door caught fire.

"This is something we see all the time, sit on all the time. It's very common but also very vulnerable and stupid to have on your porch like this," Rosenzweig said.

56 fires in eight years and most of them started on downtown porches with couches on them. Last month flames ripped through two Rutledge Avenue homes and Thursday morning at 54 Cannon Street. Investigators believe the fires may be at the hands of a mystery arsonist

"Last night we decided we were going to move it (the couch) off today," Rosenzweig said.

Joey Coz didn't want to wait. He lives across the street and says it could have been a close call for him and his roommates.

"We had a big couch on our porch for a while and we threw it away about two weeks ago because we were worried about the arson and what not and we heard that's what he's looking for," Coz said.

Many people living in the area may be vulnerable targets. Property manager Jack Kelly says it's mostly college students, moving here from out of the city or state, who may not be aware of the danger.

"There's a lot of turnover there so it's very important because a lot of these students have lived with their parents for up until now. So, it's important we remind them, its real life and something they need to be concerned about," Kelly said.

That's why Kelly even sent out an email to new tenants reminding them about removing couches from porches. Meanwhile, investigators in a joint task force, including the Charleston Fire Department continue looking for clues. They are asking for the public's help.

If you see anything suspicious, you are urged to call 1-800-92-ARSON or Crime Stoppers at (843) 554-1111.

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