Police took a man into custody after a series of fires were set Monday morning in southwest Fresno near the junction of Highway 99 and Highway 41.
The first fire was reported 5:30 a.m. near Highway 99 and Highway 41. Fire crews found four blazes in the same general area as homeless encampments.
More fires erupted about 7 a.m. near Church Avenue and Highway 41. As firefighters rushed to the area to put out the blazes along the side of the highway, another fire was reported east of Elm Avenue at Church Avenue.
Minutes later, police detained the suspect where C Street transitions into Golden State Boulevard as it crosses over Highway 99. Deputy Fire Marshal Don MacAlpine said an officer saw the man bent over and trying to ignite dry grass.
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“His hands were in the cookie jar,” MacAlpine said. Fire officials later identified the man as Gary Zaragoza, 56.
MacAlpine said investigators found four witnesses who saw the suspect starting fires.