Police linking two arsons to string of fires in Forest Hills

Kemberly Richardson Image
Monday, December 7, 2015
Suspicious fire in Forest Hills may be linked to others in area
Kemberly Richardson has the details from Forest Hills.

FOREST HILLS, Queens (WABC) -- Police are now linking two additional arsons to a string of fires in Queens.

Forest Hills has seen a series of seven fires at homes under construction - all are now being called 'suspicious'. The latest fire at a residential construction site on 69th Road was also set on fire Nov. 15th.

Police released a picture of a person of interest in the fire. He was seen fleeing from the scene early Saturday in a picture snapped by a local resident.

There have been at least six fires since October.

Saturday's fire that started about 12:30 a.m. rose to two alarms, began spreading to nearby homes, and it took 150 firefighters to put out the intense flames. The home was Rabbi Zalman Zvulonov's future home. He tells Eyewitness News that his family, wife and six children had planned to move in by the end of February.

This is the second time someone targeted this exact site/

At an impromptu meeting on Sunday, religious leaders from the community met. All of the targeted homes are under construction, and all are Jewish-owned. However, authorities do not think this fire bug is fueled by hate, but rather by opposition to the extensive renovation that is going on at all of the sites.

Jonathan Kazakov lives next door to the home that was destroyed, and says the stress of everything is just too much.

"My niece and nephew were sleeping on the side, and when I came into the room, the whole window was red - just grabbed them and quickly ran outside," says Kazakov.

Inside Kazakov's home, firefighters had to pull down parts of ceilings and walls to keep the fire from spreading. His mother tells Eyewitness News that on the first night of Hanukkah they will not be home.

The reward has increased to $12,500 for the capture of the person suspected for setting the fires.

There had been six previous cases, according to NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce, starting on Oct. 20.

The four fires took place on November 8th on 112th Street, November 15th on 69th Road, November 17th on 66th Avenue and Wednesday night, November 25th on 67th Drive. The others were in an empty building and at a storage facility.

According to Boyce, the suspect is using "combustible materials found at the scene."

Boyce said there are increased patrols in the area.