White Plains residents fear arsonist after 2 similar fires

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Marcus Solis has more from White Plains.

A fire that burned through a home in White Plains overnight Monday and sent residents fleeing onto the street has many in the neighborhood worried that there may be an arsonist on the loose.

Several residents of the large Wyanoke Street house were treated for minor injuries in the blaze that broke out just before midnight, the the second fire in less than a week in the small neighborhood.

Chris Annuziato lost everything he owns in the fire that started on his front porch and quickly spread to rest of the house. His family was able to escape the flames, which were so intense that they melted the siding on the house next door.

"Everybody's worried around here," one neighbor said. "Because we don't know what is going on."

"I'm panicked now," another neighbor added. "I don't know what's going on around here."

There is worry because last week, just across the street, there was another fire on the porch of another house. There was only minor damage, but the timing and similarities are too much for some to chalk up to coincidence.

"I don't know who's doing it, but I really wish whoever it is will stop," neighbor Pearl James said. "Because it's terrifying."

"I'm just hoping that it's not a situation that people now are looking to sabotage this place, which has been a lovely place for the last few years that I know it," neighbor Eulan James said.

Wyanoke Street is a short block that dead ends, and there is a diverse population with neighbors who seemingly get along fine.

"My gut is somebody deliberately did it," Annuziato's friend Jamal Hunter said. "I don't know (why). He's a great guy."

White Plains police and fire departments are investigating, and evidence collected at both scenes is being analyzed at a lab while detectives are conducting interviews.

"Could it be a coincidence? It could be a coincidence," White Plains Police Commissioner David Chong said. "But we are taking a real active look at it, and I assure the residents of the area that the police presence has been increased."

One person visiting a neighbor said she believed she heard gunshots or fireworks just before the fire, but she wasn't positive.
"My cousin...noticed that there was a commotion outside," Yessica Salazar said. "It sounded a lot like fireworks, maybe some shotguns. We all came out of the house...and as we were coming out, we realized that there was a huge fire."

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
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