Arsonist hits Fresno police chief's car; other fires may be related

Sunday, July 20, 2014
Arsonist hits Fresno police chief's car; other fires may be related
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An arson investigation is underway after someone tried to set the Fresno police chief's car on fire. And this case may be tied to several other fires in the city on Sunday.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Several arson investigations are underway by a fire department that's already stretched thin.

At least seven small fires were reported in Downtown Fresno Sunday morning -- all in less than an hour. They were mostly in garbage cans and trash piles, but one targeted a patrol car used by Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer, and investigators are calling all of them suspicious.

Fire after fire, the FFD chased down small blazes Sunday morning including one under Dyer's car. The suspect in the case, described as a man who was walking along Mariposa Street, tried lighting the car on fire.

"People don't realize there's a potential for not only property damage but for human beings to get seriously injured or killed, and they don't understand that," said Dyer.

The fires could be connected to a series of suspected arsons all across downtown. Right now they don't have anyone in custody.

"We do have fires that have been occurring in different parts of the community that may be the work of multiple individuals, so we are tracking down numerous leads," said Fresno Fire Battalion Chief Chuck Tobias.

He says with an already tight staff it's tough to get their investigators to calls on the weekends.

"There are times when an investigator is just not available. We have to make do with the personnel on scene," said Tobias.

If you have information about any of the fires, you are urged to call your local law enforcement agency.