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[UPDATE] 4 Cars Set on Fire Within 2 Blocks in Nyack Overnight

No one injured; Summit Street home damaged, Jeep destroyed in fire. Police suspect fires linked to car break-ins.

Rockland County arson investigators and Orangetown police detectives are working in Nyack today on two streets within two blocks of each other, where four cars were apparently set on fire overnight.

Orangetown police increased the number of cars that were set on fire from three to four today after another damaged car was discovered. Police also believe that thefts from 10 cars in the immediate area in Nyack are related to the fires.

In South Nyack, police report they also had four thefts from cars in that village.

Last night, one car, a Jeep, was completely destroyed and a house at 35 Summit St. was damaged. The residents of the 35 Summit St. home had to evacaute their home because of the fire and were being temporarily kept out of the home as utility service was cut because of the fire.

Police said they are considering the fires to be arson. Police are also seeking help from the community, asking residents to contact them if they saw something suspicious.

The fourth damaged car was discovered hours after firefighters had left Summit Street. A resident of that block found that the inside of her car was damaged from a fire.

Orangetown Det. Sgt. George Garrecht said someone lit a piece of paper on fire inside the door of that car, and then shut the car door. The fire, however, went out on its own and did not spread. There was damage to the interior of the car caused by the fire.

Nyack Fire Chief James Petriello said the incidents are all under investigation and that he called in the Sheriff Department's Bureau of Criminal Identification arson investigators to probe the fire scenes.

Nyack volunteer firefighters were alerted to a fire at 35 Summit St. at about 2:30 a.m. As firefighters responded to the call, they also found a car on fire at 23 Summit St. and discovered that a car had apparently been set on fire at 16 Washington St.

All of the cars were parked in the driveways of houses. While two of the fire have addresses on different streets - 23 Summit and 16 Washington - the fires were actually on Jackson Avenue. The driveways of both homes are located off Jackson Avenue.

At 23 Summit, a new Jeep was gutted by fire. The fire did not affect the home, but the detached garage behind the house and off Jackson Avenue suffered minor damage.

At 16 Washington St., firefighters said that Orangetown police officers on their way to the fire discovered a car in that home's driveway was on fire and they were able to extinguish the fire.

At 35 Summit St., a car parked in the driveway and immediately adjacent to the house was apparently set on fire. The fire damaged the side of the house, where siding could be seen burned away and window shades were melted.

Petriello said residents of 35 Summit St. evacuated the house safely and no one was injured. None of the Nyack and Piermont Fire Departent volunteers who were called to fires were injured, Petriello said.

Residents of 35 Summit St. were allowed back in their home to retrieve personal belongings — and their pets — after the fire was put out. However, they had to leave the home, Petriello said, because power to the house was being turned off and arson investigators were going to be working at the house.

Police said the fires appear to have been started with whatever materials could be found in the cars. Although the investigation is continuing, police said it does not appear that an excellerant was used to start the fires.

Garrecht said the incidents are a continuation of a rash of car larcenies that have affected the Nyack area recently. However, Garrecht said that setting fire to cars after getting into them is a new addition to the crime spree.

The car incidents all seem to have one key element in common: The car doors were left unlocked.

Garrecht and South Nyack-Grand View Police Chief Robert Vancura both urged residents to lock their car doors, even when the cars are in the driveway. They said thieves are looking for easy targets such as open cars and are taking any money they can find — even small coins — and personal electronics such as iPods, cell phones and GPS units left in vehicles.

In addition to seeking tips from the community about the incidents, police are also asking that any residents in the Summit Street area whose homes are equipped with video security cameras check their systems to see their exterior cameras might have recorded something that could be useful to the police investigation.

This morning's fires were the third night in a row in which Nyack volunteer firefighters were called out for early-morning emergencies. On Monday, they were called to assist at the scene of a c, where a 27-year-old resident of Jackson Avenue in Nyack man was killed. On Sunday, there were called to in downtown Nyack.

The Catherine Street fire, which sent some smoke into adjacent buildings on Main Street in Nyack, is considered accidental — possibly caused by an electrical problem.

Orangetown police ask that anyone who might have information about the fires or recent car break ins contact the Orangetown Detective Bureau at 845-359-2121.

William Demarest (Editor) August 21, 2012 at 09:40 AM
With three car fires within a few minutes of each other, if you are wondering why the Nyack fire horns didn't wake you up last night there is a good reason. The horns weren't working. Fire Chief Jim Petriello said the system is malfunctioning and is being repaired.
Scotty August 21, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Nice time for us to find out.
Ken McQuade August 21, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Thank God for the Plectron !
Sarah Page August 21, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Is there any word on who might have done this? Any leads at all?
Pat August 21, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Many thanks to the firefighters who did arrive with astonishing speed and worked for a very long time! No volunteers have ever done as much.
William Demarest (Editor) August 21, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Orangetown police are asking for anyone who might have witnesses something connected to the fires or saw something suspicious to call OPD detectives at 845-359-212.
Watchdog August 21, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Did you delete my post?
Helen August 21, 2012 at 07:09 PM
A fourth car was set on fire on Summit Street, it wasn't discovered until this morning. Hope they catch whoever did this.
Watchdog August 21, 2012 at 07:41 PM
We still have not caughttnecriminals who destroyed 20 cars in Nanuet and we have the highest paid police department in the world.
William Demarest (Editor) August 21, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Helen.... you are correct. Orangetown police just reported a fourth car was targeted last night. Some paper was set on fire, but when the car door was closed the fire soon went out on its on. The damage was not spotted until this morning.
Watchdog August 21, 2012 at 07:56 PM
No the cops have no clue.
Helen August 21, 2012 at 07:57 PM
The damage was pretty intensive and the car no longer operable, I have emailed you!
Watchdog August 21, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Where we're all the patrol cars when these 14, up from 3, cars were damaged?
Norman August 21, 2012 at 08:17 PM
This economic depression that we are in is only going to continue to exacerbate the problem of burglaries and shootings etc. People better get themselves prepared to defend their homes and property.
William Demarest (Editor) August 21, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Watchdog ... FYI: The fire were just a couple blocks off Main Street in a residential neighborhood. Neighbors say Orangetown police and Nyack volunteer firefighters were on Summit, Jackson and Washington quickly and an Orangetown police officer is credited for putting out one of the car fires and preventing complete destruction of the car.
Watchdog August 21, 2012 at 08:26 PM
You are correct. Orangetown is down about 20 cops because the remaining cops are getting outrageous salaries and benefits such as 81 days off.
John Taggart August 21, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Its just the occupy people enjoying the nice weather. Out to punish anyone with a better car. Poetic justice really...... it all ends when it gets cold.
Sick-n-Tired August 22, 2012 at 12:16 AM
We know Watchdog we know. Give it a rest already.
Craig S. August 22, 2012 at 06:21 AM
It was definitely working the other nite tho for the building fire on Main street at like 3am!!
Voice of Reason August 22, 2012 at 12:15 PM
Even without the fire horns, they were still able to respond quickly. Which means that we really don't need them. They are very disturbing and loud. Each firefighter has a radio that goes off when there is a fire and it tells them the exact address of the fire. There really is no reason to disturb an entire town every time there is a fire. Especially for anyone who unfortunately lives next to a siren.
maria johnson August 22, 2012 at 02:00 PM
I am the 4th car that was hit along with the other three. The driver's seat is completely destroyed - melted down, and the space around it burnt as well. I would hardly call it a few papers put on fire, with it then going out. I had 16 gallons of gas in the Odyssey, and believe me it should have been blown away as the other 3 were. Just thought you should hear it straight.
Watchdog August 22, 2012 at 02:10 PM
The cops should not be fighting fires, they should be apprehending the criminals. Sounds to me that the 4th car was destroyed ny way and the criminalsare at large.
Watchdog August 22, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Is that the car that the cop was credited with saving? The felons who destroyed and broke into 14 cars are still At large.
Craig S. August 22, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Voice of Reason - Those old style sirens - especially in Nyack and Haverstraw have been in place and operating long before you and your other whiney neighbors moved into town - they were there the day you came to Nyack and will be there when you leave Nyack. No different then moving into a house near train tracks - its part of life in Nyack for 100 years so deal with it or move!
Jane doe August 22, 2012 at 11:57 PM
There's a felon that lives in that neighborhood that gets nasty and destructive when he's drunk, which is all the time. Hope that the cops check him out. If you live in that neighborhood, then you know who I'm talking about.
Robert Naan August 23, 2012 at 12:40 AM
I heard the Orangetown Police have arrested the person responsible for these horrific crimes. Thank you very much to the Orangetown Police Department Detective Bureau for a speedy arrest in this case and taking a very reckless person off the streets. I am sure "Watchdog" will echo my sentiments!

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