The Michigan Arson Committee is offering a reward up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest of an individual, or group of individuals responsible for setting garbage fires in downtown Petoskey.
On Tuesday, around 10:13 p.m., the Petoskey Department of Public Safety was dispatched to a fire in the alley behind Leo’s Lounge, after a citizen called 9-1-1 to report large plastic garbage cans on fire against a building.
Upon arrival, officers discovered two separate fires behind the business of Monarch Garden & Floral Design.
“There were two garbage cans against the wall — one was on fire, and the other was recyclables on fire,” said Lt. Randy Weston. “Both were separated, which leads us to believe that it was arson.”
As officers were extinguishing the first two fires, the department was dispatched to the Danser Professional Building on the corner of State and Petoskey streets, where a well-established fire in a large steel Dumpster was reported.
Weston said his department was able to extinguish the fires rather quickly, and luckily no extensive damage resulted.
“They were small containment fires, but the threat of spread was there,” he said. “We were fortunate that we were able to get to them quickly.”
Weston said these fires are extremely similar to a recent string of Dumpster fires his department has been investigating since September.
As reported by the News-Review in November, the first of three garbage fires was set shortly after midnight on Sept. 8 in a trash can near 446 E. Mitchell Street. The second was set that same evening in a garbage bin behind the St. Francis Credit Union on State Street.
The third, however, was set 10 days later around 1:47 a.m. on Sept. 18, in a bin in the alley behind Scrapper’s Attic and J.C. Penney.
“We’re determining these fires are of suspicious origin,” Weston said. “The locations are in close proximity to each other, and the circumstances are similar.”
Weston said his department is looking to the community for help on solving these crimes.
“Certainly, we’re looking for any information or leads on these fires,” Weston said. “We’re real concerned with the suspicious nature of these fires, and we don’t want to see a large fire as a result.”
To offer information about these crimes and claim the reward being offered by the Michigan Arson Committee, contact them at (800) 44-ARSON, or call the Petoskey Department of Public Safety at 347-2500.