Officials seeking info in arsons

Someone has set more than a dozen fires around a University City apartment complex, and now fire investigators say they believe the arsonist has branched out to another area – a nearby elementary school.

A state arson awareness association is offering up to $1,000 for information that leads to the arrest of the person or people responsible for the fires, which mostly involve brush and shrubbery.

Authorities believe the Mission Harris Apartments arsonist may be a teenager and encourage anyone with information to call 704-334-1600.

The fires started at the apartment complex at the beginning of summer, Charlotte Fire Department Spokesman Capt. Rob Brisley said Saturday.

The blazes did relatively minor damage, but “whoever's been behind these malicious, intentional fires, has now taken their activity beyond the apartment complex,” Brisley said.

Late Friday, a passerby noticed flames at University Meadows Elementary School and called 911.

Firefighters found the flames eating the deck of one of the school's mobile classrooms. Damage was minimal, but as they were extinguishing that blaze, firefighters were called to another fire across the street, at the apartment complex. No one was injured in either fire.

Brisley declined to say at what times of day the dozen fires were set, saying residents need to be alert 24 hours a day. The N.C. Arson Awareness Council is sponsoring the reward.

The fires are the largest string of arsons since an arsonist hit the Dilworth neighborhood, just south of uptown, last spring.

Last June, Susan Davidson was placed on probation after pleading guilty to two counts of second-degree arson and one count of burning an uninhabited dwelling. Police say she set 15 fires in the southern part of Dilworth.