In the wake of a string of suspicious fires in Northampton, Massachusetts, more than 300 people packed a church last night to hold a neighborhood meeting.
The meeting began with a moment of silence in memory of the father and son who died in one of at least 9 fires that took place within a half mile radius early Sunday morning. Five structures including several houses were damaged or destroyed along with numerous cars. Although the police, fire department and city officials will not share details about their investigation, they’re asking residents to report any suspicious activity, no matter how small. Robert Davis, who has lived in the neighborhood for 20 years, describes waking up to see a car burning outside his window on Sunday.
“I could not believe what I was seeing because this doesn’t happen around here. And the car was literally blazing. And as I’m looking all of a sudden ba-boom! The thing blew and really shook the area.”
Davis says the Northampton area has always been known as the ‘happy valley’.
“Now it a situation of let’s lock doors. Lock everything up, and that’s a big change. That’s a big change. But that may be in fact what we have to do.“
Although neighborhood residents, like Davis. have become more vigilant, they’re also reaching out to one another. Some are taking the simple step of exchanging phone numbers. Others are forming neighborhood watch groups. In addition, there has been an outpouring of support and donations for fire victims.
For WNPR, I'm Nancy Cohen.