Feds called in after accelerant used to set 6 cars on fire in Northeast Philly

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Investigators have concluded that a flammable liquid was used to set six cars on fire in Northeast Philadelphia overnight.

Police said that crews were first called to a fire on the 8200 block of Castor Avenue in the Rhawnhurst section of Northeast Philly around 3:20 a.m. There, they found a 2012 Ford F-350 handicapped van ablaze, whose flames soon spread to engulf a second handicapped Ford F-350 that was parked nearby. Authorities said that a strong odor of gasoline was evident on the scene.

As emergency crews continued to tend to those vehicles at 4 a.m., patrol officers a little less than two miles away discovered another vehicle, a 2007 Toyota Sienna minivan, on fire at 4 a.m. on the 9600 block of Bustleton Avenue in Bustleton.

Investigators said that, after that, three other vehicles fires within a one-mile radius were either called into 911 or discovered by police over the next 30 minutes.

A 2007 Chevrolet Trailblazer SUV went up in flames at 4:12 a.m. on the 9700 block of Birchwood Street, also in Bustleton. A 2007 Ford F-150 pick-up truck was set ablaze at 4:25 a.m. on the 9800 block of Clark Street, less than a half mile away.

A 2009 GMC Sierra pick-up truck was engulfed in flames shortly after 4:30 a.m. on the 1900 block of Lott Street. That fire spread to a neighboring home, where a family with three children under the age of eight were sleeping. Police said that though the house suffered minor damage, no one was injured or displaced.

According to authorities, a subsequent investigation of all five fire scenes revealed that a flammable liquid was poured in or around the driver’s door, spreading to the rest of the vehicle. Federal Arson and Explosive Task Force agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have stepped in to assist the Northeast Detective Division with the investigation.


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