ACCOMACK CO. -- During a press conference Friday, Virginia State Police confirmed there have been 36 cases of arson since Nov. 12 in Accomack County.
Sgt. J. P. Koushel is commanding officer of Virginia State Police area 31and thinks it’s clear they have an arsonist in their midst.
“Evidence indicates that all 36 of these fires were intentionally and maliciously set,” says Koushel.
Nobody has been injured by the fires and the structures have all been unoccupied and abandoned.
Koushel says that most of the arsons are the work of a serial arsonist but several appear to be committed by copy cats.
Virginia State Police believe whoever is responsible lives in the county.
“He is selecting targets of opportunity and the arsonist is creating a climate of fear in our community,” says Koushel.
Police say they identified a pattern within the first week and have been dedicating more and more assets to catching this arsonist.
Some nights there have been more than one fire. State Police characterize them as random and unpredictable.
“I assure you that we are hard at work, day and night, looking for this arsonist. It's going to take time for us to apprehend this criminal, it’s not an overnight job,” says Koushel.
Police say to look for these warning signs of arsonist: leaving late at night, acting differently when the fires are mentioned or bringing up the topic.
Police are offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.
Each fire carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.
Anyone with information should contact the Virginia State Police at 1-800-582-8350 or the Accomack County Sheriff's Department at (757) 787-1131.