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Immigrant family victimized by arson says they are lucky to be alive as neighbors remain on edge

The police are asking residents on seven streets in the area to check their surveillance cameras.

ENFIELD, Conn. — A Connecticut neighborhood has been put on alert following a series of suspected arson fires. Now, the hunt is on to apprehend whoever it was before they strike again.

“My mom called me at 1 a.m. screaming the house is on fire,” said Richard Chmielewski of Enfield. 

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On Feb. 15, it was a middle-of-the-night phone call no son wants to get. 

“That’s the most important thing. They got out,” said Chmielewski. 

His parents are okay, but their home of 27 years is just a charred shell of memories. 

“You're not going to forget the many dinners we had. Even though the dining room table is gone,” remarked Chmielewski.

The home at 8 Dover Road is a less than one minute drive from 30 Montano Road where on Jan. 24, that home was also believed to be set on fire. In both cases, the fire was likely set to a back porch with evidence that an accelerant was used.

The police are asking residents on seven streets in the area to check their cameras. The streets are Dover, Foxcroft, Colony, Freemont, Leonard, Montano, and Eleanor. 

“We’d like folks to be vigilant. We would like them to be cautious. If they see anything unusual if they are not sure they’d like them to call us,” said Enfield Police Chief Aleric Fox.

You can also call the 24/7 CT Arson Tip Line at 1-800-84ARSON. If your information leads to an arrest or conviction, you’ll get $2,500.

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Chief Fox told FOX61 usually arsonists live nearby and sometimes will return to the scene of their crime, so they’ve increased patrols. Neighbors are increasing their attention levels. 

“You definitely always want to feel safe in your neighborhood so now it’s about being more alert about what’s going on and maybe getting a security system for the outside to protect me and my kids,” said neighbor Heather Ottoson.

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The family who lives in this home immigrated to the United States from Poland. They told FOX61 when they lost their home they also lost pieces of the irreplaceable pieces of their heritage. They also say they are grateful for all the donations of food and clothing from family, neighbors, and even strangers.

Matt Caron is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at mcaron@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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