East side fires under investigation

Beville garage fire
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Firefighters want you to be on alert in your neighborhood. They are trying to put a stop to suspicious fires breaking out.

In the last week alone, fire crews have responded to neighborhoods on the east side with multiple fires that appear to be set on purpose. Indianapolis crews were called to four fire incidents Tuesday morning.

The string of fires started with a garage in the 300 block of Beville just after 4:30 a.m. The garage burned to the ground.

"The flames hit the trees. The fire just spread so fast," said fire victim Kiva Culbertson.

When Culbertson woke up to her garage on fire around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, she took pictures on her cell phone of flames engulfing her garage, very close to her home.

"This is all that I have. If this had gone a little bit further, thank God that it didn't, I would not have anything," she said.

Just before 5:00 a.m., crews were called to a house in the 500 block of Keystone, just blocks away from the Beville fire. There, a trash can was discovered as the source of the fire. Minutes later, a third call came from the Detour Bar at New York and Walcott.

Owner Larry Bolinger suspects arson because of a previous fire attempt at the bar.

"Since there ain't no smoking in the bar anymore, we used to have a barrel right there by the corner, waste basket and somebody might have thrown something in there that caught fire. I don't know. I have not had any trouble with anybody or anything as far as anybody being mad at me," he said.

All this month, firefighters have responded to suspicious fires that may be set on purpose. They include a boarded up vacant double in the 2200 block of New York Street. In another fire, neighbors report seeing a suspicious man near an East North Street double before a fire broke out.

"The quicker the response they give to us, the quicker we can get out there and we can save a lot of property, lives and damage," Lt. Larry Sayles, Indianapolis Fire Department.

Fire investigators say there are three main things you can do to help keep your family safe.

First, report suspicious fires in places like alleys. Second, stay alert about unknown vehicles on your street. Also, you should call police about people coming in and out of vacant structures.

"I am hoping again whoever is doing this gets caught," Culbertson said.

Until the suspects are caught, firefighters are calling for a city-wide fire watch involving neighborhoods. They say keeping your eyes and ears open for suspicious people may help put a stop to fires.

If you have any information that could help fire investigators, call Crime Stoppers at 262-TIPS.