Merced authorities investigating rash of suspicious fires

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Right after a fire tore through a thrift shop, a debris fire broke out behind the Walgreens on R Street, then a dumpster fire behind another business on main street and another fire on M Street. (KFSN)

A series of suspicious fires broke out in the North Valley Friday.

Ashes and debris are all that's left of the warehouse that once stood in Merced.

"I don't know," St. Vincent De Paul manager Wayne Brown said. "Can't put it in words basically, it's devastating."

Brown says he got the alarming call early Friday morning

"Text message from a friend and employee," he said. "She called and text to tell me this place this place was on fire."

The Merced Fire Department says five out of their six city units responded to the structure fire a little after 10 p.m. Thursday night.

They say it started as a couch fire in the alleyway.

"That fire was extinguished by the first engine, but at that time they discovered that they had a structure fire and extended into the structure itself," Batt. Chief Cory Haas of the department said.

The structure fire was just the first of many that night.

Less than an hour later, a debris fire broke out behind the Walgreens on R Street, then a dumpster fire behind another business on Main Street and another fire on M Street.

"When the other fires were reported, we were totally committed," he Haas said. "We had to call back off-duty personnel to come and cover the city."

They say the fires may be related and have a person of interest but are still investigating.

As for Brown, he says business will be slow for a while and several families they had planned to help with donations will have to wait.

"We're going to have to clean it all out and rebuild if we can," Brown said.
Related Topics:
newsarson investigationmerced countyMerced
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