Fresno Fire investigators have pinpointed the number of recent fires in the city that may be the work of serial arsonists and the results are staggering.
Between May 1st and July 5th, investigators have looked into a total of 216 fires. 131 of those are potentially the work of a group of serial arsonists.
"Why any one of these individuals is doing what they're doing, I may never know that," said Don MacAlpine of the Fresno Fire Dept.
Don MacAlpine has been running non-stop the last couple months. The lead investigator for the Fresno Fire Department says at least two people are intentionally setting fires throughout the city.
"At this time we have no reason to believe they're complicit in their actions. It does appear they're independent," said MacAlpine.
The 131 arson fires have occurred in downtown and southeast Fresno. Targets include empty buildings and houses. As well as sheds and garages next to occupied homes. Half the fires are actually grass fires along freeways.
"Which is creating havoc for traffic patterns and putting emergency personnel in harms way," said MacAlpine.
What's abnormal for investigators is these fires are being set so close together, both in time and space.
An encouraging sign is that officers have arrested nine people over the course of the last two months.
"Is it coincidental that the fires have slowed down since then? Possibly. Are they responsible for more than the ones we've charged them with? Possibly," said MacAlpine.
Inconsistencies are puzzling as well. The Del Monte building is suspected to have been intentionally torched in may. But the blaze there this past Sunday is not believed to be the work of a serialist; rather, someone playing with illegal fireworks.
The Fantastic Furniture store, where someone was recorded throwing a flammable device, is probably not a serialist either.
"It has distinct patterns to it that are independent from our other serial fires," said MacAlpine.
Ruth Moreno lives downtown and worries someone will eventually get hurt.
"This is premeditated. These people who are doing it are thinking and planning with concern about another human life," said Ruth Moreno.
She urges residents to stay aware and not be afraid to report suspicious behavior.
"We must get together like a big family community and do something about it," said Moreno.
If you know of any information related to these serial arsonists, call Valley Crime Stoppers at (559) 498-STOP. It's anonymous and could be worth a $1,000 reward.
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