Belleville residents on edge after 3 fires are set within an hour

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BELLEVILLE, IL (KPLR) – There were fire fears in Belleville Tuesday night after 3 fires all in a little more than an hour, within 20 blocks of each other Tuesday morning.

A man was burned out of his home near 18th and West Main, shortly before 7 O’clock.

All the fires started outside a car or building, said Belleville Fire Chief Tom Pour.

That included the blazing leaves piled up around the gas meters at an apartment building near 27th and Godfrey.

"Some lady pulled up, banged on the doors, said 'hey you guys need to get out.  The house is on fire in the back'," said resident, Vernell Ellis.

He walked outside, turned the corner, and saw flames all around the meters.

Firefighters doused them quickly.  But it was a scary start to the morning.

"I thought the building was going to blow up.  I'm thinking the building's going to blow up so everybody get away from the building," Ellis said.

About 9 blocks away a fire started outside the apartment home near 18th and West Main.

It spread into the building.  The man who lived here escaped without injury, Pour said.

About 9 blocks from there, firefighters found a burning car.

It appeared someone set trash on top the car and set it on fire, Pour said.

"It's unusual for us to have as many calls as we did in a short amount of time.  So, that in itself makes us think, 'oh, what's going on here?'" Pour said. "The fact that the time frame in relation to this makes us go out and do a "cause and origin" on it, and pick apart that scene individually and look at all three of them together to see if there's any connection."

Investigators have yet to officially label these fires arsons.

That could happen as early as Wednesday.

There were no injuries.

The victim from the fire on West Main was getting assistance from the Red Cross.

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