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Possible Serial Arsonist On The Loose In San Jose

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SAN JOSE (KCBS) — The San Jose Fire Department is seeking the public’s help in finding who started at least eight dumpster and vegetation fires in the last few weeks, including one that was started on Monday night.

In the latest incident, a trash bin was ignited Monday around 7:30 p.m. on the 100 block of Delna Manor Lane—just one block away from one of the first fires.

KCBS’ Matt Bigler Reports:

Fire Capt. Mary Gutierrez said at least eight similar fires have burned in the neighborhood since Sept. 26, and investigators believe they may be related, Gutierrez said.

“The majority seem to be happening after dark,” Gutierrez said.

She said the fires have burned in back or side alleys of large, multi-tenant residential buildings, some near dumpsters, brush or trees.

So far, Gutierrez said, none of the fires have spread to the buildings, but fire investigators are still concerned.

“We are taking this seriously because there is a high potential for property loss and loss of life,” Gutierrez said.

Although none the of fires have caused serious damages or injuries, Capt. Christopher Murphy of the department’s arson unit said that doesn’t mean the fires are harmless.

“If you set combustible materials on fire and they build up enough steam and they catch the adjacent building on fire whether it be the eaves or the roof or some other combustible materials and before you know it, the fire is raging out of control,” he said.

Arsonists also use up the department’s resources by tying up fire crews from who may needed at other fires or medical emergencies.

So far no witnesses have come forward to indentify the suspects.

There were other serial arson fires in South San Jose this past summer in which dumpsters were pushed next to houses and set afire. Up to now, it is not known if these fires are related.

Anyone with information about the fires can call the San Jose Fire Department arson tip line at 408-27-ARSON (27766).

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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