Possible Arson in Cluster of Merced House Fires

February 23, 2010

Authorities are investigating whether several weekend house fires in Merced, Calif., are linked by a serial arsonist.

Fires broke out at three homes between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. Feb. 13 within a few blocks of each other. Two of the houses, one of which was vacant, were gutted by the flames. The third fire was extinguished outside the house before it caused any major damage.

Officials say arson dog brought in for the investigation hit on each of the homes, indicating that accelerants may have been used. Fire Chief Ken Mitten says the department is still awaiting lab results to confirm if there’s a link among the blazes.

Officials are warning residents to be alert for suspicious activity in their neighborhoods.

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