NEW ALBANY — The New Albany Fire Department is investigating a string of fires within about a two-hour timeframe Sunday night within a few-block radius on or near East Main Street. No injuries have been reported.
The department confirmed that crews were dispatched to 1627 Dewey St. at 9:30 p.m. Sunday to a report of a rubbish fire; there they found a couch in flames in an alley. Less than 30 minutes later at 9:48 p.m., crews responded to a car fire at Main and Cavel streets. At 11:47 p.m., they again responded — this time to a fire at an abandoned house at the 1700 block of East Main Street.
New Albany Fire Chief Matt Juliot said that while the department sees car fires often, and that the frequency of all fires varies — they could go a few weeks without any and then see a few in a row — the distance between these fires is concerning.
The fires were about two-tenths of a mile apart and about a three or four minute walk between them.
"I mean it's not common to have that many fires within the same proximity," Juliot said. "It's very suspicious."
New Albany Fire Department Fire Marshal Chris Koehler said he expects to have initial investigations completed by next week and until then, he can't say whether or not foul play could have been involved.
"At this point I don't have anything to say whether it would be arson or it wouldn't," Koehler said. "I'm working trying to find out what happened."
In a Facebook post made Monday by the New Albany Fire Department, crews responded to the house fire after a report of flames coming from the structure. Crews arrived within three minutes and found the one-story home with "heavy fire throughout the structure," according to the post.
It was quickly brought under control, with firefighters stopping the spread to other nearby buildings. Koehler said although the house was abandoned, he doesn't believe anyone could have been staying inside illegally, either; the doors and windows were boarded up.
He also said the swiftness of the fire doesn't necessarily point to any type of combustible accelerant being used, either.
"That could be a multitude of things," he said. "That could be material inside, anything that's old and dried...it could cause it to burn up pretty quick, too."
Chief Juliot reminded residents to check their smoke alarm batteries and change them if they didn't when the time recently changed, and to call their authorities if they see any suspicious activity.
Anyone with information in any of these three fires is asked to contact the New Albany Fire Department at 812-948-5312.