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Tracking An Arsonist

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Tracking an arsonistBy Tony Bartelmetbartelme@postandcourier.com Monday, October 3, 2011

It's 3 a.m. on Bogard and Ashe streets, dead center in the arsonist's hunting zone. It's quiet except for the hum of air conditioners and a distant voice. I move closer and see a young man on a porch. He's talking on his cell phone and smoking a cigarette. Ahead, a fan of palmetto fronds blocks the glow from a street lamp; I walk into its shadow, my footsteps scrape the sidewalk.

An arsonist has walked these same blocks, perhaps for as many as ten years. He passed the porches of these tightly packed wooden homes, some of which date to the Civil War. He moved through this same time of stillness, a time after the bars close and before the delivery trucks roll and early risers rise.
At some point, his footsteps turned toward the porches of these homes and crossed that invisible line between public and private. Then came the sound of a match or the click of a lighter. Did hi…