SKOWHEGAN — The Office of State Fire Marshal is investigating a rash of apparent arson fires Monday morning in which five cars reportedly were set on fire and five more vandalized.

The first calls sending Fire Department and police personnel to Family Circle, a collection of apartments near the Skowhegan recreation department, came in just after 4:15 a.m. Monday. Another vandalism call was taken from adjoining West Front Street, according to interim Skowhegan Police Chief Joel Cummings.

Cummings said the five cars were each burned “to varying degrees.” He said the Fire Marshal’s Office was called in as normal protocol in such suspected arson cases.

“They think it started in my gas tank. They lit it up with something. They shoved a rag down in there or something,” said Quincy McLaughlin, owner of a 2001 Mazda Protege LX that was torched.

“My neighbor came pounding on my door at 4:15 this morning and told me my car was fully engulfed.”

McLaughlin, 24, said his front window was smashed out last Thursday and suspects the fire might have something to do with that incident. He said he thought that only three cars had been torched.

The events are unsettling, he said, because he lives there with his girlfriend and two young children.

Investigators from the state Fire Marshal’s Office did not immediately return a call for details of the fires.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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