LEXINGTON, Mo. — A string of intentionally set fires on Tuesday, including one that killed a 96-year-old woman, is sending shockwaves of concern through the people of Caldwell County.
And another arson that happened not-so-far away Wednesday morning has surrounding counties on their toes.
Authorities want people to be on the lookout for a black SUV, sharing these photos Wednesday afternoon:
The fire in Lexington Wednesday morning was the fourth fire in close proximity in 24 hours.
Fire officials told FOX4 that the suspect vehicle is similar to that of the suspect vehicle in Caldwell County (only going as far as calling it a black vehicle).
That vehicle was spotted near Missouri 224 at a vacant home demolished by fire. For now, authorities are asking people to keep an eye out, not yet sure that the fires are related.
On Wednesday, the ashes still smoldered at a home on SW State Route D in Polo, Missouri. It was the first and most serious fire call on Tuesday morning for authorities, according to Caldwell County Sheriff Mitchell Allen.
“When they arrived at the house, the house was fully engulfed and it was reported that the resident was still inside,” Allen said.
“And we located the remains of Lorene Fickess, 96 years old,” Allen said.
“Approximately an hour and ten minutes later a second call came in of a house on fire,” Allen said.
“And about an hour later at 10:40 am came across a third house on fire located at the junction of Route D and HH,” Allen said.
“I don’t think it took Sherlock Holmes to figure out that these are probably connected,” Allen said.
Then Wednesday morning, Lexington firefighters responded to a 911 call for a home on Missouri 224 where the 911-caller interrupted the suspected arsonist.
Local authorities say that more structures along that road are vacant and may have been targeted if 911 wasn’t called.
People who live in the area are concerned, and making an effort to connect with people who live nearby.
“Neighbors talk. And they keep track. And it’s very important because a neighbor’s all you got out in a rural area,” one resident said.
“Any fire is a great worry because we’re so far away from help,” he said.
Caldwell County has increased patrols in areas around the sites of the arsons. But it is unnerving not knowing an exact motive.
“There’s no evidence of theft. It’s hard to believe what goes through an arsonist’s mind. The thrill, they like fires. We really don’t know but I will ask him whenever I find him,” Allen said.
Fickess’ body was taken to Jackson County for an autopsy, looking into the cause of death. Her death is being investigated as a homicide.