New Castle woman: Arsonists ‘ruined my life’; police review security tapes

Photo of house fire in New Castle. (Provided Photo/Chelsey Marie Orr)

NEW CASTLE, Ind. (WISH) — Investigators say the three New Castle fires that started Tuesday morning are arson.

Police said they are reviewing security video from a nearby home but they have not released a suspect description.

The state fire marshal is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case, and detectives said the reward has prompted an increase in tips.

The fires started in three abandoned homes and spread to neighboring structures, destroying four homes and damaging another four.

Linda Smith said she wasn’t home when the fire spread to her apartment at 19th Street and G Avenue, but her pets were in the building. They ran off and she was still looking for the two cats and one dog Wednesday afternoon.

“Everything we owned was in there. I don’t have a pot to cook soup in, let alone anything else,” Smith said. “Somebody’s responsible for it and they need to pay for what they’ve done. They ruined my life.”

The other fires started at 17th Street and D Avenue and another at 16th Street and F Avenue.

“Three at once, it kind of taxes our fire system,” New Castle Fire Chief Mark Boatright said. “But that’s what we’re here to do and that’s what we do.”

Detectives said their security video comes from a home across the street from the house that caught fire at 16th Street and F Avenue. They won’t release the video, but the homeowner showed 24-Hour News 8 the tapes.

The video shows a car pull up before one person hops out and walks toward the home shortly before it catches fire. At least four people then gather near the home after the fire starts, before the police show up.

“Why? I mean what did you get out of doing it?’ Smith said. “I don’t see any way you could have any satisfaction out of ruining other peoples’ lives.”

Smith is staying at her mom’s house. People in the community are also donating clothes to her.

Detectives said they questioned three teens Tuesday morning, then released them.

Anyone with a tip on the case can call the Arson Hotline at 1-800-382-4628.

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