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Hundreds of Worried Residents Attend Town Hall

Folks in Yosemite Lakes Park met with firefighters hoping to get answers to a series of fires in their community. Several are suspected of being arson.
Hundreds of worried residents turned out to the Yosemite Lakes Park clubhouse in Madera County Thursday night.

They met with firefighters hoping to get answers to a series of fires in their community. Several are suspected of being arson.

“We wanted to make sure that we were being proactive with the folks here and letting them know we are just as equally concerned with what’s happening in the area as they are,” said Chief Nancy Koerperich of Cal Fire - Madera Co.

Since last Saturday, there have been 16 fires in a two mile radius of Yosemite Lakes Park.  Most have been small, but one was as large as 60 acres.  Several are believed to have been set intentionally.  Luckily no homes have burned.   

Firefighters at the meeting kept an ear to scanners, listening for more potential fires.  Meanwhile, speakers explained how they fight fires and what to do in an evacuation situation.

“A lot of the stuff they said really did help, so I feel a little bit better and I can go home and relax,” said Gloria Sanchez, a resident.

The focus remains on catching the suspect.  Extra investigators are on staff working 24/7.

“We want to get this stopped now when it’s still in the small stage because we’ve found that in arson cases they generally tend to escalate,” said Chief Koerperich.

Albert Rodrigues and all of his retired friends are using their spare time to look out for suspicious activity.

“We’re all ticked off and if this is being caused by somebody else’s stupidity, they won’t want us to catch them,” said Albert Rodrigues, a resident.

Chief Koerperich says it’s important for folks not to use social media sites to share with friends what they observe.

“It may damage its credibility.  If you let us know what the information is then we get to tie that in with everybody else who has told us stuff and that’s how we get to build our investigative case,” said Chief Koerperich.

If you have any information to help fire investigators call 1-800-47-ARSON.  You can remain anonymous.

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