Arsonist threatens Murrieta?

MURRIETA, Calif. Officials want to catch the arsonist before there's major damage or injury.

The first brush fire in the series occurred on Monday afternoon. The brush fires were small. Within three hours, a second fire broke out.

At first, Murrieta fire officials had little reason to suspect a connection. However, on Tuesday, four fires were reported. One was reported in Guava Canyon.

"Investigation has stepped up and we're actively trying to figure out what's causing the fires. And, looking for potential suspects if the fires are being caused by arson," said Division Chief Gary Whisenand, Murrieta Fire Department.

Murrieta is a fast-growing city of 100,000 people. But there are many areas of the city with horse ranches and open land with very dry vegetation.

"Most of the accidental causes at this point have been eliminated. And, at this point, we are looking at potentially intentionally set fires," said Whisenand.

Chief Whisenand said arsonists fall into two categories. The first is one who sets fires for profit in some form.

"And then the other type of arsonist is the arsonist that lights fires for the thrill of lighting fires," said Whisenand. "And that is potentially what we may be seeing here."

Residents are being asked to keep an eye out for anyone suspicious, especially in the brush-covered areas.

Anyone with information on these brush fires should call the Murrieta Fire Department at (951) 304-3473.

If you see a fire in progress, call 911.


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