NEW BEDFORD — A rash of arson cases across a concentrated area of New Bedford has fire and police officials very concerned.

"We have a number of fires in a fairly confined area of, I would call it the near North End, and it's very concerning to us," New Bedford Fire Chief Michael Gomes told WBSM News.

Gomes said that at approximately 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, Ladder 4 was on its way from another call when it came upon a fire in the basment of a structure in the 400 block of Sawyer Street. He said the crew immediately stopped and evacuated the occupants. Additional fire companies were dispatched to the lcoation, but Gomes said the fire was rapidly brought under control and confined to the basement. He said as far as he knows, nobody was injured, but he was unsure if anyone was displaced as a result of the fire.

It was entered into police logs as arson.

"The fire is still under investigation, and we've had this series of suspicious fires in that general area," he said.

On July 22, a two-family home at 91 Adams Street was destroyed by fire in a case of suspected arson. Then on July 31, a small fire at 475 Coggeshall Street was set outside the window of an apartment, damaging a curtain and some nearby clothes. That fire was also deemed suspicious in nature.

Gomes said he's not ruling out that the fires could also be related to a string of four car fires that took place in June in the area of Clark, Sawyer, Myrtle, County, Adams and Cedar Grove Streets.

"We are looking at any or all fires that have occurred in that area," he said.

Gomes reiterated that the fires are all under investigation, and he is "not at liberty at this time to divulge details."

Anyone with information on the fires is asked to contact New Bedford Police.

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