String of suspicious Rockland fires prompts investigation, calls for vigilance

SUFFERN, Rockland County (WABC) -- Police in Rockland County are investigating a string of suspicious fires that have destroyed two homes and damaged a third, and they are asking residents to review security video for any clues as to who might be responsible.

The victim in the latest fire, Department of Public Works employee Michael Agustin, said it was the second fire at his Suffern home in just a few days, and another house on the same street was torched in a similar manner.

For that reason, he said he feared another fire was coming.

"There's a lot of anger, because my dad is recovering from a stroke, we've been through a lot as a family the past few years," Agustin said. "We don't bother anyone."

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Authorities say the suspect's MO is to set a small basement fire that causes enough damage to make the owners relocate, and then when they house is empty, they enter the home and start a larger fire on the second floor.

There was also a third small fire recently, but no return visit to start the larger one. The fires have all been started late at night or in the early morning.

Agustin's said his home was completely destroyed, as was the house involved in the similar fires.

"Mikey has dedicated his life to helping/defending others-Military and Suffern DPW," a colleague wrote in a GoFundMe page set up for the family. "He is like a brother to all of us at the DPW. As a family, we need your help to help Mikey and his family start all over. This money will go right to the family to help them start from the bottom up after losing everything. The most important part is that they have each other!"

No injuries were reported. The investigation is ongoing and involves multiple agencies, but any resident with information is urged to contact the police desk at 845-357-2300.

Anyone with Ring-style doorbell cameras or other security cameras is asked to review the footage for suspicious individuals or activity, and continue to do so moving forward until advised otherwise.

Residents are encouraged to keep their homes well lit, even overnight.

They are also urged to make sure they have fresh batteries in their smoke detectors and to test that they are in working order.

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