Members of a Jewish Community Center in Forest Hills are on edge after a series of arson fires in their neighborhood. As NY1's Matt McClure reported, the center is now offering a big reward for an arrest in the case.
A charred pile is all that is left of the home Rabbi Zalman Zvolonov was building here on 69th Road. It is the seventh and latest in a string of arsons in Forest Hills, and residents are on edge.
"We need extra security. We don't feel secure no more," Zvulonov said.
"The whole neighborhood doesn't know where it's going to strike next or what neighborhood it might strike next," Forest Hills resident Ruth Lehman said.
Officials say the most recent fire happened around 12:30 Sunday morning. Firefighters had it under control less than two hours later.
Zvulonov says an arsonist targeted the home before, on November 15, but was unsuccessful.
Leaders from Bukharian Jewish Community Center gathered for an emergency meeting Sunday afternoon. The JCC's members are afraid they are the arsonist's target.
"It's difficult to say right now, but I guess everybody draws his or her own conclusions,” said Aron Borukhov of the Bukharian Jewish Community Center. “Everyone who suffered with these fires, they were members of Bukharian Jewish Community."
The meeting came just after police released a surveillance photo of a person of interest in the case.
Investigators are looking to question him about the fires, which each happened at construction sites in Forest Hills.
Simon Kazakov lives next door to the site of the Sunday morning fire. He says neighbors beat on his door around 12:30 to wake him up.
"They panic because they're saying we have to get out of the house and there's a fire next to the house," Kazakov said.
The flames also damaged his home, and he and his family will have to stay somewhere else until repairs can be made.
"I hope the city is going to help us to install the cameras on each blocks because it's going to save a lot of houses,” Kazakov said.
"This cannot continue,” Borukhov said. “If it takes for a patrol car to be at every construction site, maybe that's what it takes."
The Jewish Community Center also announced a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case. That is in addition to the NYPD's $12,500 reward offer.
So far, no injuries have been reported as a result of any of the fires.