HAMMOND | Hammond firefighters responded to what appears to be yet another arson in a neighborhood just west of the city's downtown Saturday morning.
Firefighters were called by a resident in a nearby trailer park around 5:30 a.m. to 658 Sibley Street to a call of a fire at a former auto repair shop.
"It appears somebody stuffed something into the mail slot off the side of the building," Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Margraf said Monday morning.
The shop, which has been closed for about three years, still contained auto repair parts and flammable fluids used in the industry, Margraf said.
"It could have been really scary," he said.
Firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze. No one was injured, Margraf said.
Saturday's fire marks the sixth suspicious fire in the same neighborhood in three weeks. The previous five have been ruled arsons.
Margraf said Saturday's fire has some similarities to earlier arsons, noting it took place at a vacant property before daybreak.
The first fire occurred at 5714 Erie St. just before midnight March 31. Three hours later, crews were called to a fire at 623 Sibley St.
On April 2, firefighters were called to a fire in the rear of a building at 950 State St. At 3 a.m. April 7, firefighters were called to 855 Sibley St. for a fire in the rear of the building there.
Another 3 a.m. fire occurred April 9 at the rear of a building at 855 State Street.
No one was injured in any of the blazes. All but one of the buildings in the initial fires were vacant rental properties.
Investigators from the police and fire departments believe they have solid leads in the first and third fires and that the second, fourth and fifth are related.
Margraf said Saturday's fire may well be linked to those fires as well.
Firefighters initially passed out fliers in the neighborhood April 12, but received no input from neighbors.
Margraf said firefighters again plan to canvas the neighborhood Monday asking for the public's help in learning more about the blazes.