12 Fires Set on Purpose? The Search for An Arsonist in Fresno

A series of fires throughout Fresno appears to have been set on purpose.

But are they all relatedand, are investigators looking for more than one person?

Fresno Firefighters say at least 12 show some similarities, and could potentially be connected.

"There's not one clean, simple pattern that emerges from all of it, that brings them all together, except for time and proximity," says Don MacAlpine.

MacAlpine says a majority of those fires were in the area that borders Tulare, North, Highway 99 and First street.

These include a major fire two weeks ago at a recycling plant near Calwa, and the one at Proctor's Jeweler on the Fulton Mall. That same night, there was also a fire at the Helm Building on the Fulton Mall.

In that case, someone cut the gas line from its water heater connector and left it in the "on" position.

"We're already into the hundreds of investigative hours," MacAlpine said.

He says his investigative unit is stretched thin.

It's made up of MacAlpine and three others.

Fresno Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is also pitching in.

Meantime firefighters responding to the calls are also feeling the strain.

"Our folks are getting pushed to the limit. They've always stood up to the task. Their hearts are good, but how long will the body and the equipment go on," says MacAlpine.

Firefighters say they have made some arson-related arrests, but aren't sure if those incidents are connected to the 12 in question.They say that homeowners in the affected area should not be paranoid, but rather, alert. If you hear a suspicious noise, take a peek.{} MacAlpine says that often times, those who live next to house fires heard a dog barking, but did not take a look. They say people should also clear heavy brush and grass from their homes-- someone could easily set a fire and walk or ride a bike{}away.