HOUSTON -- Since December, there have been fires at Spring Forest Middle School, Thornwood Elementary, Ashford Townhomes and Sheffield Square Apartments.
Investigators say the two teenage dropouts who are now in custody have been linked to them all, as well as 16 other fires in the Memorial area.
The teens are former students at Stratford High School in the Spring Branch ISD.
“Unfortunately we have individuals in this, in our community, who just have evil intent,” said Chief Chuck Brawner with the Spring Branch ISD Police Department.
The recent arrests were a relief to Dennis Smith, who once feared his apartment could be in jeopardy.
“Hope they learn their lesson behind bars,” Smith said.
It is still not clear why 19-year-old Xavier McNight and a 16-yea- old friend allegedly set the fires.
They have only been charged with arson at one location, but investigators say more charges are coming.
In each instance, investigators believe the targets were random. There were never any injuries.
“How somebody didn’t get hurt is a miracle to me,” said Robert Carnes with the Houston Fire Department.
Carnes says there have been 15 arson fires since December, but that the minors may have been responsible for as many as five more in 2011. No one was ever charged.
Officials say it was a tip that led investigators to the recent arrests, and that more tips keep coming in. More arrests are possible.
In most instances, Carnes said the teens lit bottles of lighter fluid to start the fires. Their total damage is estimated at more than $1 million.