Valley Public Radio - Live Audio

Fresno Fire Department Looking Into Serial Arson in Fresno's Downtown Fires

Jun 11, 2014


Firefighters contain a fire at an abandoned warehouse in downtown Fresno on May 17, 2014.
Credit Kerry Klein

The Fresno Fire Department believes it is battling a serial arsonist.  At a budget hearing on Tuesday, Fresno Fire Department Chief Kerri Donis said the fire and police departments are investigating 21 fires that have occurred in the city since May.

Most of the fires occurred in vacant buildings in downtown Fresno.  In one building, a severed gas line appears to have been left in the “on” position.  Fire Department spokesman Koby Johns has confirmed that geographical and chronological factors appear to connect at least 4 of the fires.

Johns says that arson isn’t terribly unusual—but serial arson at this scale is.

Johns: The unique aspect that we're dealing with now is these are large fires in very large buildings, and they require an extremely large number of resources to bring under control.

According to Johns, investigators are also studying a string of recent grass fires along highway 180.

The Fire Department encourages anyone who may see suspicious activity to leave an anonymous tip at 559-498-STOP, the Valley CrimeStoppers line.