State says Douglas fires are arson, and related - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

State says Douglas fires are arson, and related

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DOUGLAS, GA (WALB) - Douglas firefighters battled numerous suspicious fires recently. Douglas Fire Department worked four fires on North Madison Street, Franklin Street, Gordon Street, and June Street all night.

Ralph Hudgens, Insurance and Fire Commissioner says the four fires that happened 12:30 between 2:30 Tuesday morning in Douglas have been officially ruled as arson, and all four fires are connected. 

They are asking for the public help on finding the arsonist with a reward up to $10,000.  Call the Georgia Arson Control Hotline 1-800 282 5804. At this time, they do not have any suspects but they are following potential leads to solve the crime. 

Benny Dockery and his wife looked over what's left of their business after it caught fire. "It was devastating. It is a very devastating day to all of us," said Dockery, Jr.

The Dockery's say there was little they could do when they got to their burning business. "They instructed us how to get into the street because it was blocked off trying to get into here with so much fire protection. The fire was going out through the roof. At that time it was a pretty hot fire," said Dockery, Jr.

The first fire happened at a vacant home on Franklin Street. Neighbors say another fire happened right across the street on July 3.

"The second call was on Gordon Street then it went to a dumpster fire at Days Inn and then this one at Eagle Mark," said Fire Chief Tim White.

Douglas Fire and Police are asking residents to be on the lookout for any suspicious activity after the recent fires. Dockery says he doesn't know if he'll be able to rebuild at the same location.

"We have so many phone calls from citizens, from the community asking what can we do for you. It's a blessing," said Dockery, Jr.

Dockery says he does plan to pick up the pieces and start over.

Douglas officials issued this news release-
"We are asking all citizens to stay vigilant and to report any suspicious activity," says Police Chief Gary Casteloes. "We appreciate everyone who has provided information to aid our investigations in the past and encourage citizens to report tips to our See Something, Say Something Crime Tip Line at 912-260-3600."

The Douglas Police Department is also investigating an increase in damage to buildings, personal property, and criminal activity in the north area of Douglas. At this time, it is unclear if these incidents are related. The Douglas Police Department is soliciting any information in regards to these recent fires and burglaries. 

Citizens are asked to report tips to Sgt. Robert Sprinkle by email at rsprinkler@cityofdouglas.com or by calling 260-3624. Citizens can also call the See Something, Say Something Crime Tip Line at 260-3600. 

For crime or suspicious activity that is occurring and you are witnessing it as it happens, please call 911.

The following safety tips are being urged for citizens to practice at this time:

1. Report all suspicious activity, contact 911 if the activity is occurring at the moment.

2. Report all fires no matter how small.

3. Homeowners/business owners need to keep a close watch on the property and neighboring property.

4. Put all flammables and containers with hazardous materials out of reach of the public.

5. Trim shrubbery from around homes and businesses.

6. Install motion activated security lights on property.

7. Let neighbors or family members know if you are going to be out of town so they can keep a check on your property while you are away.

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