Little Rock Fire Department officials say there has been an increase in suspicious fires in the Wright Avenue neighborhood since the beginning of the year.
Fire Chief Delphone Hubbard said the department has responded to 23 fires so far this year in that neighborhood. Many of the blazes, ranging from 2 a.m. to 7 a.m., were trash fires.
"Back in November of last year, you had individuals who took trash out to the curb for pickup or a group of leaves at the curb, and we noticed an uptick in the number of calls and fires we would have to extinguish in that Wright Avenue area just on trash," Hubbard said. "Who's creating this issue with trash? Then we started to investigate a little bit more thoroughly."
Hubbard said the fires have now expanded to property damage. Six residences -- three of which were vacant -- and four vehicles have been set ablaze.
Hubbard said the department is unsure about how some of the fires started, but arson is suspected in several of them.
"There are some other activity that could be going on in these vacant structures that could result in those fires," Hubbard said. "If someone's doing drugs in those particular vacant homes and you have a mishap there, it creates a fire."
The pattern of the blazes changed after an arrest in March, Hubbard said, when a woman was detained and charged in a trash fire but was later released.
"We were never able to actually say she was an arsonist on an actual structure," Hubbard said. "That happened in March of this year, and she's since been released from jail. During her time [in jail], the amount of activity decreased. Well, since she has been out, we have noticed an uptick again."
Hubbard did not release the name of the woman but said residents have been speaking with investigators giving them the same name as the woman arrested in March. According to Hubbard, she is not acting alone.
"We know that there's more than one person, so that's why we're expanding our investigation to all potential suspects as it relates to this case," Hubbard said.
Some neighbors said they are concerned about their homes.
One woman, who asked not to be named, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that she has heard about a person going around lighting the blazes, but she did not know the person's name.
According to Hubbard, the Fire Department will be working with the city and Police Department to resolve this matter.
Little Rock police spokesman Mark Edwards said his agency is increasing patrols in the Wright Avenue neighborhood as a result.