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Suspected bicycle arsonist blamed for Oceanside fires

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OCEANSIDE, Calif. – Firefighters extinguished a rash of at least nine small brush fires overnight in Oceanside, and a bicyclist with gasoline and a lighter was arrested, firefighters said.

About 40 firefighters from the Oceanside Fire Department, Camp Pendleton and the North County Fire Protection District extinguished at least nine fires that burned a total of three to four acres before 2 a.m., according to Battalion Chief Bill Kogerman of the Oceanside Fire Department.

VOThe first of the fires that kept crews busy was reported about 11:35 p.m. Friday near Mesa Drive and Foussat Road, Kogerman said. That fire burned within about 200 feet of homes, but was contained to about an acre.

As crews were finishing up, they were dispatched to flames two miles away near Redwood and Cypress streets. They found six fires burning in a field behind homes near the San Luis Rey River bed, Kogerman said.

Then, two more fires were reported near where the first fire broke out.

Firefighters rushed back and spotted a male suspect speeding away on a bicycle, according to Kogerman.

An engine company caught up to the suspect, who was found to have a backpack containing a lighter and a gas can, and he was turned over to police, Kogerman said. No name or age were immediately released.

No structures were damaged and no injuries were reported, Kogerman said.

The incident remains under investigation.

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