Catherine Ross, NBC 5 Collin County Reporter
McKinney is warning residents about an arsonist. In the last six weeks, eight different fires have been set with one seriously damaging a home.
McKinney fire investigators say they're dealing with an escalating arson problem.
The fire department reports a total of eight arson-caused fires in McKinney between March and May. The reports range from fires in garbage receptacles and brush fires to homes.
"It is unusual, but it's not unusual -- throughout history, there's always been arson," Deputy Fire Marshal Andrew Barr said.
The escalation is concerning, he said.
One of the fires caused $80,000 in damage to a single-family home. In another case, a home in the 500 block of West Josephine Street was leveled and another was damaged to the point of being uninhabitable.
Investigators suspect juveniles are behind the fires.
Moving from trash fires to property damage is a natural progression for juveniles involved in fire-setting, Barr said.
Neighbors near the homes on West Josephine Street said they often see teens loitering in the backyard or garage of one of the fire-damaged homes.
One man said he has even seen smoke rising from the area. While he has notified authorities, he said he fears retaliation.
Neighbor Vonnie Neely said McKinney firefighters put up signs for the reward of up to $1,000 for information to an arrest in the case, but the signs appeared to have been stolen within a day.
Neely said she fears for herself and her husband while the firebugs are on the loose.
"They could hurt some old people," she said. "But they will find them. They will find them."
The perpetrators could be charged with arson, regardless of age, the fire department said.
Anyone with information is asked to call contact Detective Jeff Taylor at 972-547-2700.