Residents of a Wynnefield neighborhood awoke Wednesday to find seven parked vehicles ablaze.
Fire marshals ruled the outbreak arson. Burned were a string of cars on Georges Lane at Arlington Street and a cluster of others a block away at West Berks Street. Firefighters got the call at 4:34 a.m. and quickly put out the flames.
Four of the cars burst into flame outside the home of Cameal Murray, 26, an EKG technician who 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."
She said that she often parked in the same spot but that on Tuesday night, she left her car around the corner. It was undamaged.
"I hope everything works out for these owners," she said.
Among the owners whose cars burned were 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 had been working overtime at 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.
"They have no conscience," Kim McCullough said of the vandals. "There was no reason for them to do this. We're not troublemakers."
The fire fried their car's electronics, so they had to use their metal key to get in to retrieve undamaged property, including their year-old child's car seat.
"I think it's random," neighborhood resident Bill Matthews said. "Someone didn't have nothing else to do."
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.