Aug 7, 2011 11:57 PM by Matt Stafford

Investigation into Pueblo car fires continues

Three cars were destroyed by flames Sunday morning in Pueblo; it was near the Nature Center, just off 11th and Pueblo Boulevard.

Onlookers couldn't believe it; some even snapped pictures of the three cars on fire and sent them in to News First 5.

The fire was even more shocking to two sisters -- originally from Pueblo but back home on a visit -- Karen Carleo and Kathy Wernsman, who own two of the cars.

"We just were riding our bikes on the greenway and we came back this direction and saw that our cars were on fire," says Carleo.

"I mean we had no clue, we just were really scared," adds Wernsman.

They thought maybe they had left something running they shouldn't have; really they were just racing for answers. However, they just needed to look right next to their cars; the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office is saying the fire started in the Cadillac Escalade parked next to the sisters' cars, and they say it's suspicious.

Heidi Mints was parked just a few feet away, but luckily her car wasn't caught in the flames. She says she saw a man jump out of the Escalade and quickly get in a white car with a woman who drive away just before the fire took off.

"From what I saw it looked like they were intentionally setting that car on fire," says Heidi Mints, a witness.

As the man was leaving, Mints noticed something odd for a warm day.

"The male had gloves on, like oven mitts."

The Sheriff's Office is still trying to put it all together, but they are learning more. The Escalade was stolen from a home in Pueblo on Raccoon Drive; they're still looking for suspects.

As for the sisters - Karen, now living in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Kathy, living in Haxtun -- this puts a snag on a trip home for them. They're still trying to figure out what happened as well.

"We were a little worried that Kathy's purse was stole also; mine is right there," says Carleo. "Burned up."

As for the rest and their trips home, they say they have insurance so they'll be okay.

There was another car fire Sunday afternoon in Pueblo; this one was around 2:30 p.m. near the Lake Pueblo Dam. The Sheriff's Office says the two scenes were not connected. They believe the afternoon fire was a mechanical problem on the vehicle.

Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk Taylor gave praise for the volunteer crews who put out these fires, in a press release on Sunday afternoon. He said that many of the people who put out these fires participated in the 9/11 ceremony on Saturday in downtown Pueblo as well -- giving up most of their weekend for the community.

"I can't say enough about the good work they do," said Sheriff Taylor.

Sheriff Taylor's office will continue investigating the morning fire near the Nature Center. If anyone has any information, they are asked to call the Sheriff's Office at (719) 583-6250.


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