Arrests made in series of suspicious fires

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SAN DIEGO – Police have arrested three people connected in a series of suspicious fires ignited around City Heights over the last two months, and there could be more suspects, according to a detective.

The Metro Arson Strike Team arrested two people two months ago.  A third person, who was taken into custody last week, took investigators to several locations where he admitted starting unreported fires, according to San Diego Fire-Rescue Detective Sgt. Joe Snarponis.

Despite the recent arrests, arson investigators were called to City Heights at Menlo and Polk streets Wednesday morning after two more small fires were reported.

“Just when we think we might have our person in custody, then some sort of copycat or somebody else starts more fires,” Snarponis said.

A witness saw a man walk up to a parked motorcycle and light the cover on fire. Witnesses chased the man off and put the fire out, fire investigators said. Two hours later, a pallet burst into flames in an alley near Shiloh Road and University Avenue. The fires were less than a mile apart.

Snarponis said detectives recovered DNA evidence, which they are processing to see if they can match it.

Fire detectives planned to visit eight to 10 known arsonists who live in the area.

“We’ll be doing follow-ups on those registrants -- where they have been and what they've been up to,” Snarponis said.

Snarponis admitted there is no clear connection with the series of fires set within the last few months. Investigators said it’s a race against time to find and catch who is setting them.

“We want to get this person or persons in custody before these nuisance-type fires grow in to something much larger,” Snarponis said. “This is our No. 1 priority right now.”