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String Of Suspicious Fitchburg Fires Have Residents Living In Fear

FITCHBURG (CBS) -- A string of suspicious fires have Fitchburg residents living on edge following one that broke out on Monday morning.

The fires started in May, and they have been set in basements, on porches, and in stairwells.

Fitchburg Fires
A Fitchburg apartment building badly damaged by fire. (WBZ-TV)

Investigators say several are confirmed arsons and may be linked.

Angie Seger keeps her kids' emergency bags by the door alongside a fire extinguisher for a quick escape.

"My kids have a hard time sleeping because they're afraid we're next," she says.

She's talking about a suspicious string of fires in her Greektown neighborhood, at least seven since May 1, gutting chunks of three triple-deckers on West Street including one just before dawn on Monday.

Debra LaFlamme, a tenant for three decades, scrambled out with only her pajamas.

"We weren't able to salvage anything," she said through tears.

"You think about all the things you worked hard for over the years and to have somebody take it away..."

Indeed, some fires are confirmed arsons, while others have not.

The string of fires has scared some neighbors into taking shifts for an all-night watch, sleeping only when police assure them that a marked cruiser will stay parked outside through dawn.

Fitchburg Fires
A reward flyer posted seeking information related to a string of Fitchburg fires. (WBZ-TV)

Fitchburg Fire Chief Kevin Roy says the fires have become the talk of the town.

"I'm hoping we have a final resolution to the problem very shortly," he said.

While the fire chief isn't sure all are the handiwork of one firebug, he suspects several are.

A teenage boy has already been accused in one case.

Sources told WBZ his mom has been questioned but not charged.

Both were tenants, and she had allegedly threatened neighbors.

Tracy Ricottelli says "I had a feeling, and I even said 'I'm going to die in this place.'"

Home for Ricottelli and her grandkids is now a local motel room.

"We're in the middle of this bull's-eye," she said.

"It's really not fair. We shouldn't have to live in fear every day," says LaFlamme.

And so for now, those bags will stay packed by the door.

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