Updated 08/14/2012 05:13 PM
Suspicious fires prompt increased police patrols
Rumors about what led to a string of suspicious fires in Troy is stoking tensions in the Collar City. Lori Chung has more on what police are saying about the investigation.
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TROY, N.Y. -- Dozens of people were displaced and we're told the area is saturated with police and fire investigators and people affected try to figure out how who's behind these fires.
"I heard that it's gasoline or kerosene or something that somebody poured on it," one person said.
That's one of the rumors swirling in the Troy neighborhood where four homes went up in flames earlier this week. Officials confirming it as suspicious, but not saying how they think it started.
"We have some idea, but we're not 100 percent sure on that yet," said Troy Fire Chief Tom Garrett.
“Anything you can share?” our reporter asked.
"Not at this time," Garrett said.
Police had to break up a large fight at the scene on 6th Avenue Monday night. They acknowledge that the not knowing has put residents here on edge.
“A lot of rumor and speculation out on these fires and we think that’s causing exchanges between the neighbors that turn into conflict,” Troy Police Department Spokesman John Cooney said.
These are the latest in a string of fires in the area where foul play is suspected. Police have told us that a woman who lived in Lansingburg where a suspicious fire broke out on July 15th relocated here on 6th Avenue, the site of two other questionable fires. City Councilman Mark McGrath says he believes this is connected to a gang rivalry. We spoke to that woman, Ashley Foster, by phone.
Foster said, "I have nothing to do with anything, I am just a fire victim and that's it and I want to go back to my normal life and move on from this."
Foster's connection to these fires, or lack thereof aside, McGrath says he'd like to see more aggressive policing in the area, saying the police department's disbanded street crimes would have gotten to the suspected arsonists before they had a chance to strike.
"They would squeeze these guys and gather information and that's what they would do and the word got around and people, they didn't want to be here anymore," said Troy City Councilman Mark McGrath.
We reached out to the mayor and his spokesperson tells us McGrath's position on the street crimes unit only serves as a distraction and that the mayor is intimately involved with the investigation and the effort to step up patrols there.
Officials tell us they're committed to solving this case, but they urge anyone who sees anything suspicious in the area, to call police immediately.