Four people were found dead in two early morning house fires in the eastern Nebraska town of Laurel on Thursday. Authorities said foul play is suspected, but no arrests have been made.
Shortly after 3 a.m., firefighters were dispatched to a report of an explosion and fire at a Laurel home, Nebraska State Patrol Col. John A. Bolduc said at a news conference Thursday afternoon.
Firefighters arrived to find a body inside, Bolduc said.
While firefighters and law enforcement were on the scene, they received a report of a fire at a second home about three blocks away. They responded to the second burning house, where three more bodies were found, Bolduc revealed.
The names of the four victims were not immediately released. The medical examiner will conduct a post-mortem examination to determine the exact cause of death.
Bolduc did not provide a possible motive, saying only that “foul play is suspected.”
“We have two fires with dead people three blocks apart,” Bolduc told reporters. “It would be very difficult to say there is no connection.”
Accelerants may have been used in both fires, Bolduc added, saying it’s possible the suspect or suspects suffered burns.
Shortly after responding to the second fire, investigators received a report of a suspicious vehicle heading west on a freeway outside of Laurel, Bolduc said. It was described only as a silver sedan driven by a black male. The driver may have also taken a passenger.
Cedar County Sheriff Larry Koranda described the neighborhood where the two fires occurred as a retirement community of about 1,000 residents.
“Everybody knows everybody in this little community,” Koranda said.
Bolduc said investigators are asking residents and businesses for any security camera footage that could help with the case.
Laurel is located about 40 miles west of Sioux City, Iowa.