Virginia's normally-tranquil east coast is in the midst of an arson wave. A Thursday night fire (dismally reported as occurring "after two nights without one") now brings the number of fires that have baffled police since November to 72, Delmarvanow.com reports. As Time explains, the fires in Accomack County have exclusively hit abandoned or vacant properties, mostly residential and at night. A rep for the state's sheriff's department says the fires are being sparked in a way that allows a great deal of time to elapse before they're spotted, allowing the perpetrators "to get away with minimal detection."
And yes, perpetrators: Because more than one building has been struck simultaneously, police believe more than one person is behind the crimes. Thus far, no one's been hurt, "but the threat is very real," the rep adds. The farming county has some 800 abandoned properties, and there aren't many people around to catch perpetrators. "When you’re talking about abandoned structures, society doesn't pay a lot of attention to it and there's not a lot of security," says an arson expert. "This is an individual who is selecting crime sites." The county is taking action in the form of a ban on uncontained fires, instituted last week, WAVY notes; it's also offering a $25,000 reward for info leading to arrests. (Read more Virginia stories.)