Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Vandalism and arson on the rise -- Clayton, NC

Pamela Palazzolo awoke to the sound of screaming sirens racing past her quiet subdivision early Monday as firefighters rushed to a burning day care center that was under construction on Vinson Road.

It has becoming a familiar if scary sound in this growing part of eastern Clayton, where more and more developments have cropped up in the Glen Laurel area. Since October, authorities have investigated four other fires at sites under construction less than two miles from the scene of the blaze Monday.

The fires, along with a string of vandalism cases, have some residents worried about the safety of their neighborhood.

"I'm just keeping an eye out," said Palazzolo, who lives in the Summerlyn subdivision off of Glen Laurel Road. "It's a concern. You just wonder what's going on."

Monday morning, a fire destroyed the Building Blocks Child Care and Development Center in the 3100 block of Vinson Road. Clayton Police Chief Glen Allen described the fire as "very suspicious" and said investigators will determine if the blaze was the result of arson.

Firefighters arrived about 3:50 a.m. Monday to find flames shooting through the roof of the day care center. Allen said the fire consumed the building, leaving only the walls standing.

Allen said the blaze could be linked to recent arson cases. In January, Clayton police investigated suspected arson at homes under construction less than two miles from the Building Blocks center that burned Monday. One home at 102 Rolling Meadows Drive, off Glen Laurel Road, was severely damaged. Police said they discovered someone had entered a second house at 116 Rolling Meadows Drive and tried to start a fire there, causing light damage.

On Halloween, one house was destroyed and another burned in the nearby Chandler's Ridge subdivision.

"Obviously it is a very disturbing trend," Allen said.


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