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Early Morning Fires Burn at Least Five Cars in Harlem

By  Dan Rivoli and Trevor Kapp | September 11, 2012 8:38am | Updated on September 11, 2012 10:54am

HARLEM — A spate of car fires burned in Harlem early Tuesday, officials said.

At least five cars were ablaze in Central Harlem.

The FDNY confirmed one fire at 321 Edgecombe Ave., near St. Nicholas Place and West 150th Street, broke out at 4:10 a.m.

The torched car belonged to Oral Walker, a 35-year-old plumber who discovered his burnt white Land Rover when he walked outside to take his daughter to school.

He said the car was just six weeks old.

"I'm disappointed," Walker said. "I loved the car. It rode beautiful."

A few blocks over on West 149th Street between Frederick Douglass Boulvard and Bradhurst Avenue, hospital employee Jamel Watson woke up to discover his green Toyota Scion had been torched.

Watson said he received a phone call at 6:30 a.m. informing him his car, bought in June, was on fire.

"At first, I took it as a joke, but then I came down stairs and saw that my car was burnt," Watson, 25, said.

"At first, I thought it was personal, but I see that it was just someone going around being stupid."

Joe McRae, a 32-year-old who lives on Bradhurst Avenue at West 151st Street, said he saw a black Mustang engulfed in flames and fire fighters dousing the vehicle with water.

"There was a bang. Boom," he said.

"I saw the flames between 3 and 4 a.m. It was all smoky."

"It used to be just breaking into windows," McRae said. "Now it's setting cars on fire."

The 2013 Mustang's leaser, Frank Silvestry, who works in an auto museum in Long Island, said news of his burnt car left him "shaking." He said he rode the Mustang every day.

"I'd gotten attached to the car," Silvestry said. "Who do I yell at? Who do I punch in the face for doing this? This is truly senseless."

There was also a Hyundai Accent damaged because it was parked behind the burning Mustang.

"I feel violated. I'm a hard-working tax payer, like everybody else," said its owner, Ayodele Maakheru.

"People know right from wrong, and this is wrong."

A Lincoln Navigator on West 144th Street and Lenox Avenue was also burned.

Officials were unable to confirm if there were more car fires in the area.

NYPD said it is unknown if the car fires were connected or if they were set deliberately.