Suspect Sought in Three Texas Fires

The overnight blaze in the 1300 block of Missouri Avenue was one of three fires in the area. The others were in the 1400 block of South I-35W and the 500 block of East Maddox Avenue.

MAP: Fort Worth fires

Fire officials are looking for a man suspected in setting three vacant houses on fire in a quarter-mile radius on the southeast side late Saturday night.

The first fire, in the 1400 block of South Interstate 35W, was reported about 11:40 p.m. Saturday, Fire Department officials said. Within 30 minutes, firefighters saw smoke coming from a house in the 500 block of East Maddox Avenue and the 1300 block of Missouri Avenue.

No one was injured. The homes sustained a total of about of about $95,000 in damage, said Lt. Kent Worley, a Fire Department spokesman.

Worley said investigators believe that an accelerant, likely gasoline, was used to spark the fires. They are trying to locate a man of unknown age seen nearby.

"Somebody there at the Missouri address told our investigator they saw a black male on a bicycle with what looked like a gas can shortly before the fire was discovered," Worley said.

About 12:30 a.m. Sunday, adults and children, including neighbors, gathered on sidewalks near the Missouri Avenue house as firefighters worked to get flames under control. Some said they saw a column of gray smoke while driving on South I-35W.

Vanessa Hornbuckle stopped when she saw the smoke. She said the tan brick home with a Century 21 sign out front was engulfed in flames when she showed up.

"It looked like it was trying to get to that other house," she said.

The home on Missouri Avenue sustained the most damage, about $50,000 worth, according to fire officials.

A Fort Worth police report filed in connection with the 1400 S. I-35W fire said investigators found about 50 computer central-processing units with missing hard drives on the floor of a bedroom in the home.

The police report also said an unidentified neighbor said neighbors had called the Fire Department and city code-enforcement officers about people entering and leaving the vacant house.

Worley said he knew of no other reports to the fire department about the house.

He said the department will likely rely on help from the public to find answers.

"A lot of it with these, to be honest, is people with information coming forward," Worley said. "The person may end up talking."

Distributed by the Associated Press