Police Looking Into Whether Arsonist Targeted Yale Students

Three off-campus houses where around 20 Yale University students live were intentionally set ablaze early Thursday in New Haven, according to fire investigators, and police are trying to determine whether the students were targeted.

Officials said an accelerant was used to set three fires just before 3 a.m. at houses on Crown Street between Park and Howe where Yale law students, medical students, members of the men's swim team and the fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi live.

Yale law and medical school students living at 401 Crown St. smelled smoke and gasoline around 2:40 a.m., rushed outside to find fire in the area of the front porch and quickly put out the flames.

Then they noticed fires at 395 Crown Street, where Alpha Epsilon Pi lives, and at 397 Crown Streets, where members of the men's swim team live, and ran to alert students living there.

Everyone was able to get out of all three homes safely and no injuries have been reported. 

New Haven Fire Marshal Robert Doyle said the fires were all similar. They were set outside and did not extend inside the buildings.

State Police have been called in to help with the Crown Street investigation.

A State Police Fire K-9 also responded to a fire on Osborne Avenue at a building that houses University of New Haven students. A chair on a back deck on Osbourne Avenue caught fire and there was minimal damage.

Investigators said that fire seems similar to the Crown Street fires, but there is no connection between the two.

New Haven firefighters also found a fire on the front porch of the house at 21 Pendleton Street at  5:30 a.m.

On Wednesday night, firefighters responded to a two-alarm fire at 39 Fairfield Street. A tweet from the New Haven Fire Department said there was smoke from the back porch. 

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