SOUTHWEST PHILADELPHIA - Philadelphia police believe someone tried to set city vehicles on fire.
The person targeted Streets Department trucks parked at a police station in Southwest Philadelphia, but their plan backfired.
It was early Wednesday morning when members of the 12th Police District and the local fire company, which occupy the same facility at 65th Street and Woodland Avenue, detected an odor of gasoline.
They quickly determined that several municipal survey vehicles in the underground garage had been doused with fuel. They also found a T-shirt drenched with gas.
The question that authorities have yet to answer is, why?
"We don't know if they were scared off before they set anything afire, or were they trying to create incendiary conditions and then leave, and have somebody else inadvertently start the fire by maybe starting the car," said Police Spokesperson Capt. Sekou Kinebrew.
And that leads to even more questions.
The garage houses a slew of police and fire vehicles, but for some reason the vandals only seemed to have targeted survey trucks from the Philadelphia Streets Department.
Still, Capt. Kinebrew says if those trucks erupted in flames, many other vehicles down there would've gone with them.
"There's a lot of cars down there, and you figure every car is going to have some amount of gas in it, so if an explosion or fire or something happens inside of a garage... it could have gotten very dangerous and very out of control very quickly," he said.
Also hampering the investigation is the fact that there are no security cameras inside the garage - a circumstance that may change some time soon.
"Something like this has not happened before. It's unfortunate that sometimes it takes things like this for us to say OK, let's see what we need to do to make sure it doesn't happen again," Capt. Kinebrew said.
The garage has since been cleaned, and authorities are hoping to find surveillance video from local homes or businesses. But so far, that has not happened.
Anyone with any information is asked to call police.
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