The Columbus Fire Department is investigating a string of overnight car fires in the historic district, and neighbors are still recovering from the shock.
Just after 3:00 a.m. Saturday firefighters found themselves rushing to Front Ave. and Broadway. It was all hands on deck as they fought to extinguish five different cases of arson.
Cathy Fussell's van fell victim to the arsonist. She says, "We were all at Cutbait festival last night, and everybody walked home at various times, so there was lots of activity in the neighborhood into the wee hours. It's a safe neighborhood for walking and biking and being neighborly, so that makes it, in another way, kind of particularly upsetting."
She woke up around 3:20 after hearing a loud noise outside her house on Front Ave. Initially thinking her neighbor's house was being broken into, she looked out the back windows before seeing the glow from the front.
Now she and other residents are faced with replacing totaled vehicles, while one neighbor's back porch got torched.
Robert Saliba owns a house on Broadway where his daughter's Kia Soul went up in flames. "My daughter called the insurance company," he says. "They're going to take care of the car, and I'm going to get a little active on seeing if we can determine who did this."
Fire Marshal Chief Ricky Shores says, "We had similar incidents in this area back in 2006 and 2008, so certainly we're looking at that information to see if these are related."
He says the fire department is also looking at how the fires were started along with evidence and eyewitness accounts as they investigate.
The Fussell's and Saliba's are both glad the flames didn't reach their historic houses, but they're still faced with thousands of dollars in losses.
Cathy Fussell adds, "We had a brand new rubber raft in the back...so the raft was destroyed. Fred was ready to raft, and now he's not so ready. We can laugh but it was frightening to have a big fire so close to the house."
As of now, the fire department has no suspects. If you have any information about the arson, you're encouraged to call investigators at 706-653-3500.