Man arrested suspected of setting several grass fires across Fresno

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Police and fire investigators said 59-year-old Gary Zaragoza is believed to have started at least five of those fires. Several of them set in the Southwest and Downtown Fresno areas along Highway 41 near 99. (KFSN)

Police have one person in custody for a string of grass fires set around the Fresno area Monday morning. Firefighters were called out to battle at least eight blazes.

Police and fire investigators said 59-year-old Gary Zaragoza is believed to have started at least five of those fires. Several of them set in the Southwest and Downtown Fresno areas along Highway 41 near 99.

Police were able to detain Zaragoza at the 99 south onramp heading toward Golden State. Police said they found him crouched down over a patch of dry grass attempting to start another fire with a lighter.

Investigators said witnesses played a major role in tracking down the arson suspect with at least four eye witness accounts.

They add dry fuel conditions and the location of the fires Monday morning proved to be challenging.

"Even though this was wilful and maliciously caused by human, because of the conditions, and being along roadways, we really want the public to be on high alert as far as the operational condition of their vehicles. Make sure nothing is throwing off hot ember sparks," said Don MacAlpine, Deputy Fire Marshal.

In total, there were eight working fires including one residential. Fire investigators haven't linked the suspect to the residential fire-- they are still looking into the cause of that fire.

Investigators said gaining access to the fires proved to be difficult especially from the freeway because of traffic.

Down near the fire set on Church near Freeway 41 we saw several vehicles running over fire hoses as well. Fire officials want to remind people, should you see fire crews in the area, o slow down and try to avoid the area if possible.
Related Topics:
newsfirearsonfresno police departmentfresnohighway 99arrestFresno - SouthwestFresno - Downtown
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