Lawrence serial arsonist strikes again; 15th suspicious fire since October

LAWRENCE, Kan. - The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has doubled the reward for a serial arsonist after another fire in Lawrence, Kan., on Friday morning.

This is the fifteenth arson in the area since October, and the Lawrence Fire Department believes they're connected. They all happened within blocks of each other and in common areas of apartment buildings.

A $2,500 reward hasn't yet led to an arrest. So after Friday's fire, the money has been doubled.

"It's a crime in which a lot of people can be injured," Fire Chief Mark Bradford said.

For one woman, the most recent fire could've been catastrophic.

Evelyn Pliler uses oxygen tanks to breath. Friday's fire broke out in the stairwell of her apartment building -- just feet away from her highly-flammable oxygen supply and no smoking sign.

If the flames had reached her apartment, she said she would've exploded. Like the fire department, she's convinced it was the latest work of a serial arsonist in the city.

"I just don't understand what kind of person would be so evil," she said. "I'll hang him by his thumbs and beat him with a ball bat."

Pliler wants answers now.

"It just irritates the living tar out of me to think somebody would be so evil and so brain-damaged that they set somebody's house on fire, when they see a note on the door that says oxygen use," she added.

Pliler 's grandchildren live just up the street. They said the arsonist hit their apartment building in November.

"It's terrifying," said Rocko Brown, the husband of Pliler's granddaughter. "I've got two kids. I can't have this, nobody can."

He said that's why three neighbors have already moved out.

Authorities are pleading for information. If you know anything that could help catch those responsible, call 785-843-TIPS. 

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