Shirley Nicholson has owned and operated Nicholson's Grocery in Mansfield for 58 years, but she says she nearly lost her home and her livelihood in a matter of seconds.
“And I was just praying that it wouldn't burn my house down, because it's so close to my house and the store,” said Nicholson.
The flames were so close, the heat melted the siding off her house.
Firefighters were able to save it, this time, but neighbors who live here wonder who might be next.
“And I've had so many people down the street here said they was even afraid to go to bed at night, because if they had a house close to them that was vacant,” said Nicholson.
Mansfield firefighters said the arsonist strikes vacant homes and garages on an average of one every three days. There has been a total of 43 arsons since June.
A two story house fire on East Second Street is among the largest and most dangerous of the 43 arsons firefighters have battled.
They have fought the flames of these fires since June, now they are fighting back.
The Mansfield Firefighters Union is now offering a $1,000 dollar reward of its own for information that leads to the arrest and indictment of the person responsible for starting the fires and putting them in danger.
"They're not well-maintained, so you don't know when you walk into a vacant house, if they have holes in the floor, stairs could be rotted out,” said Mike Shafley, Mansfield Fire Union.
A matter of time, they say, before one of them gets hurt... or the arsonist gets caught.
This string of arsons comes at a time when the Mansfield Fire Department is at its lowest staffing level since the 1980s.
The new reward is issued on top of a $5,000 reward already being offered by the Ohio Blue Ribbon Arson Committee.
Watch 10TV News and refresh 10TV.com for more information.
October 19, 2012: Mansfield Arson Fire Count Grows To 46 As Search For Suspects Continues
July 25, 2012: Fire Investigators Believe 10 Arsons Linked In South Mansfield
June 24, 2012: Investigators Working To Track Down Mansfield Arsonist
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