DC Fire and EMS searching for arsonist in Shaw neighborhood

A woman is suspected in a series of arson fires in DC’s Shaw Neighborhood. Fire officials desperately want to find her before she strikes again.

 The woman is seen wearing a mask and a backpack. Authorities believe she is in her mid-thirties. Fox 5’s Sierra Fox spoke with Mitch Kannry, DC Fire & EMS Deputy Chief & Fire Marshal who said she has already set three fires in the Shaw Neighborhood.

"There is a lot of history in serial arsonists. We’ve had some, unfortunately in the District in the past. Those have traditionally been males, but unfortunately crimes like this they don’t specify gender. Anybody is capable of committing these crimes and they’re serious regardless of who commits them," said Kannry.

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DC’s Fire and EMS department wants to stop her as soon as possible because from their experience – fire setters often feel more empowered each time they get away with a fire and escalate to starting an even worse one.

"Any time we have somebody who appears to have set multiple fires, we know that this behavior can continue so we want to try to intervene as soon as possible. These fires and escalate in size and in scope which we are very concerned about," said Kannry.

 DC Fire and EMS said all three fires happened just last week. The first two happened near 9th and French street on Thursday, June 24. The most recent fire was set on Saturday, June 26 behind the Grimke School near U and 10th.

All the blazes were ignited sometime between midnight and 5 a.m.

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"The concern with any kind of incident where somebody is setting fires is first of all – the safety of the public. Arson is a very serious crime. These are all arson offenses. Any of these buildings where these combustibles are lit could catch on fire which could obviously threaten the lives of the individuals inside and threaten the property of the residents and citizens of the District and obviously put the fire department members at risk too. Those firefighters going in to help extinguish that blaze. It’s a risk for everybody which is why we take those crimes so seriously," said Kannry.

At this time, investigators are closely looking at surveillance video to find clues about how the arsonist ignited the flames, but they do know she used common combustibles like paper, trash, and cardboard. Luckily, no one has been hurt and there’s only been minor damage to property. One fire happened in an alleyway and the other two on sidewalks areas near businesses.

That’s what’s concerning to June Everett, Owner of Signature Cuts and Shaves Barbershop on U St.

"I was shocked. I didn’t hear anything about it. that was the first time I heard anything about it and just the thought of someone damaging businesses that are trying to get off the ground right now after the COVID is repulsive to me," said Everett.

DC Fire and EMS say what’s making it harder to identify the arsonist is the fires happened overnight when businesses were closed. That is why they’re asking any eyewitnesses or people will information to reach out to them. Their anonymous tip line is 202-673-ARSON.