MERIDEN — State and local police are investigating after car fires were intentionally set on Bronson Avenue and Hanover Street early Tuesday morning, sending a woman to the hospital with burns after she tried to move her car to safety.
Fire crews and police responded to the area of 89 Bronson Ave. at 3:14 a.m. for a report of a car fire. Three cars were damaged, with one minivan appearing to be severely burned and two others with damage to the sides facing the minivan.
Fire Marshal Steve Trella said police have a video that shows a few people appearing to go through cars on Bronson Avenue, then the van is seen on fire. The fire spread to the two cars next to it, Trella said.
Sgt. John Mennone, police spokesman, said police do not have video evidence, but noted there “may be potential video surveillance that will become available...” Police are looking for two men as suspects, but did not release physical descriptions Tuesday.
Mennone confirmed four vehicles in total were damaged in the fires, three on Bronson Avenue and one on Hanover Street. All of the owners were identified and notified, Mennone said.
A woman suffered burns when she tried to move her car on Bronson Avenue. She was taken to a hospital for treatment.
Another woman who identified herself as the owner of one of the Bronson Avenue vehicles said a relative heard noises outside early Tuesday morning and woke her up. The woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of concern for her family’s safety, looked outside and initially thought her car was the main one involved, but then saw it was next to the van, which was on fire. They called 911. The woman was scared, especially since she has three young children that were asleep at the time.
“I hope they catch whoever did it,” she said.
Rosa Hernandez lives next door to the apartment complex. She woke up when she heard loud popping noises. Hernandez looked outside and saw the fire. She was going to call 911 but the fire engines were already coming down the street. The neighborhood is peaceful and she has never seen something like this happen, Hernandez said.
Crews also responded to the area of 346 Hanover St. around 3:28 a.m. for another report of a car fire. Trella said one vehicle on that street was also intentionally set on fire, and noted it was about a block away from Bronson Avenue. On Tuesday afternoon a white Jeep was parked on the street with apparant fire damage on the interior.
The State Police Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit was called in to assist and samples were taken to be sent to the laboratory for testing, Trella said. The two incidents are under investigation.