Residents of one West Philadelphia neighborhood awoke this morning to find seven motor vehicles parked on the street had been set on fire.
The fiery outbreak, including a string of cars on Georges Lane at Arlington and a cluster a block away at West Berks Street, was ruled an arson by fire marshals.
Firefighters got the call at 4:34 a.m. and quickly put out the fires.
Four of the cars went up in flames outside the home of Cameal Murray.
Murray, 26, an EKG technician, said she was startled awake by an explosion about 4:30 a.m. and feared more blasts would follow.
"I grabbed my cat and went to my grandmother's house," she said. ". . . This was insane. I've never been so afraid in my life."
Murray said she often parks in the same spot, but left her car around the corner on Tuesday night.
"I hope everything works out for these owners," she said.
Among the owners are Kim and Oscar McCullough, both 24, who bought their 2010 Nissan Altima two months ago.
Oscar McCullough, who had just learned from his insurance company that he would have to pay a $500 deductible, said he has been working overtime in his job as a mental health worker to make the car payments.
"I'm a calm person, but a calm person can only take so much," he said.
Kim McCullough said she heard an explosion.
"We came out and the fire truck was here trying to put it out," said the mother of a 1-year-old.
The fire fried their car's electronic system, so they had to use their only metal key to get in to retrieve undamaged property, including the baby's car seat.
"They have no conscience," Kim McCullough said of the vandals. "There was no reason for them to do this. We're not troublemakers."
"I think it's random," said neighborhood resident Bill Matthews. "Someone didn't have nothing else to do."
The 68-year-old retired carpenter said he got up about 4 a.m. and saw smoke and flames from one of the cars about 4:15 a.m.
"It couldn't have happened too much sooner than that," Matthews said.
As Matthews spoke, a neighbor in a car pulled up.
"It's sick," the motorist said to Matthews. "It's sad to tear them cars up like that."
Police said five vehicles on the 1900 block of Georges Lane, one on the 1800 block of Georges Lanes, and one on the 5300 block of West Berks Street were damaged by fire.