Authorities in Madera investigate suspicious fires

August 2, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Two brush fires in Madera left 13 people homeless.

Fire investigators have determined that cigarettes sparked two brush fires in Madera. Between the two fires, three structures were destroyed and four more were damaged.

The fires started a mile and a half from each other and few hours apart in the brush along the Fresno River. Investigators say it is suspicious but are falling short of calling it arson.

Investigators are not sure if the cigarettes were intentionally placed in the dry grass or if it is a case of negligence. But in the last few weeks fire fighters have had to put out several fires in the area. They are investigating the possibility of arson.

"My friend lost his home and everything in his home," Muhamed Karim Muhamed said.

Next door to his friend's house Muhamed's business, Amigo Market, was closed Friday because of smoke damage.

"We're waiting for the insurance and for the health department to tell me if there is damaged food there we can't sell it to anybody," Muhamed said.

Behind the buildings two acres of dried riverbed blackened into ash. Less than two miles away there was a similar sight. A different brush fire started burning through a field two hours before the one near the river. That fire burned through 22 acres of dried grass, destroying some sheds and damaging a home. Both fires were less than two miles apart, both started by cigarettes, and both near homeless camps.

"We don't have any suspects at this point, however there's multiple homeless encampments right in the areas where the fire is starting," Mathew Watson said.

In the past month and a half there have been four smaller fires started within in the same area all four have been ruled arson, and are believed to be connected.

Whether the most recent fires are the same person or person's handiwork is yet to be determined.

"All the time we have this problem in the area. Every week, every month, there's a fire in the river," Muhamed said.

In the past 45 days, there have been four different smaller fires, all have been started within in the same area all four ruled arson, and believed to be connected.

If you have any tips about the fires that happened Madera please call Cal Fire tip line: 209-966-3622


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