LEMAY, Mo. – The Lemay Fire Protection District hopes the public can help curb a recent spike in suspicious fires. The department reports responding to more than 20 suspicious fires this year and estimates that during previous years, the number would typically fall in the five to 10 range.

Lemay Fire Captain Dominic Moll experienced a close call during one of those fires on Dammert Avenue last Friday. He began to fall through a hole in the floor. Moll suffered minor muscle strains. He underwent a medical evaluation and was able to return to work.

Moll is grateful for the response from his fellow firefighters which prevented his injuries from becoming severe.

“They were able to help me out of the hole, and we continued to knock down the fire and completed our search of the building,” he said.

The home was vacant and appeared to be undergoing a rehab project. Moll said firefighters do not assume a property that appears vacant is empty.

“We treat every building as if it is possibly occupied,” he said.

Jennifer Womack lives on Lark Avenue. She witnessed firefighters respond to a suspicious fire on her block on Saturday.

“We came out to fire trucks all down the street and smoke coming up in the air,” said Womack.

She has security cameras outside her home and said police reviewed images from those cameras. Some neighbors said the home was vacant, but they have witnessed individuals entering and leaving the property.

“Don’t hesitate at all to contact 911,” said Lt. Jason Brice, Lemay Fire Protection District. He said tipsters with information can also call CrimeStoppers at 1-866-371-8477.

Brice encourages anyone seeing suspicious activity to contact authorities.

On Tuesday, St. Louis County Police announced charges had been filed in a case involving a recent fire outside the Home Decor on Lemay Ferry Road. Joseph Blalock is accused of stacking trash and wood pallets behind the store and throwing an item onto the pile, which resulted in a fire.

The fire department cannot comment on the police investigation but reported responding to a suspicious fire even after an arrest was made. Brice hopes the public will remain alert.