Daviess County sheriff’s deputies have increased patrols in the area of Kentucky 764 and U.S. 231 after firefighters and law enforcement responded to another suspicious house fire on Sunday, the fourth such fire in the area in five days in the Pleasant Ridge area.

Three of the fires have been determined to be arsons. The fourth fire is under investigation, but the origin has been difficult to determine because the home was so heavily damaged.

So far, fires have been reported Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Three of the fires were at homes along Kentucky 764. The fourth fire, at a home in the 10000 block of U.S. 231, is near enough to Kentucky 764 to be considered connected.

Major Bill Thompson, head of investigations for the sheriff’s department, said bottles filled with an “accelerant believed to be gasoline,” were found at two of the homes.

“We’ve had four fires, and three of them are ruled arson,” Thompson said Monday. In three of the fires, the homeowners were home when the fires were started.

Wednesday’s fire was discovered when the homeowner in the 3900 block of Kentucky 764 found his vinyl siding on fire. The homeowner managed to put out the fire with a hose.

Friday’s fire was at a home in the 10000 block of U.S. 231. The home’s occupants weren’t home when the fire was reported at 1:50 p.m. The home sustained heavy fire damage.

The third fire was reported at 12:42 p.m. Saturday at a second home in the 3900 block of Kentucky 764. In that incident, the occupants found a back window had been busted and that a blanket in the home was on fire. Sunday’s incident, also in the 3900 block of Kentucky 764, began at 8:54 p.m. when a person saw a subject trying to start a fire at the home.

A second neighbor saw a person running north but was unable to provide a description. A K-9 officer followed a trail but lost the track, Thompson said.

In Sunday’s incident, the home’s vinyl siding was set on fire, which was also the case in Wednesday’s fire.

“It’s very strange for houses to be set on fire with people inside them,” said Major Barry Smith, the sheriff’s department’s chief deputy.

Thompson said evidence collected from the scenes has been sent to forensic labs for analysis.

The homes on Kentucky 764 “are within a stone’s throw of each other,” he said.

“It’s a nice, quiet neighborhood,” Thompson said. “Everyone knows each other and gets along.”

The neighbors couldn't give detectives a reason or motive for being targeted, Thompson said.

“All of them have been occupied residences, so this is a great concern to us,” he said.

Sheriff’s department detectives are working with arson investigators from the Kentucky State Police and the Daviess County Fire Department on the investigations. Thompson said the department has increased its presence in the area.

“We’ve had extra periodic checks since Friday,” Thompson said. “We continue to be vigilant, and we certainly know the neighbors out there continue to be vigilant.”

Anyone with information about the fires can call the Daviess County Sheriff’s Department at 270-685-8444. People can also provide tips anonymously to Owensboro Crime Stoppers at 270-687-8484. Crime Stoppers offer rewards for tips that lead to arrests. Finally, the Kentucky Arson Task Force provides rewards of up to $1,000 for tips that lead to arrests. The Arson Task Force Tip Line can be reached at 800-27-ARSON.

James Mayse, 270-691-7303, jmayse@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse

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