Police believe the man in custody is responsible for about 20 fires that burned property, vehicles and other structures.
Auburn police arrested a 22-year-old man in connection with a rash of arsons that began in October and damaged vehicles and homes, spreading fear throughout the city.
Authorities took him into custody on Thursday morning, police Cmdr. Mike Hirman said. The man lives within a mile of most of the fires, he added. Investigators have been tracking him for months and believe he is responsible for about 20 suspicious blazes.
In September, police arrested a suspect in connection with two fires that appeared to be part of a string of arsons involving Dumpsters, flags and other items. But after a new series started — including 11 suspicious house fires and a handful of other blazes between October and November — fear spread throughout the community.
Police arrested the 22-year-old man after three new fires overnight Wednesday, including a boat and other structures, Hirman said. Phone records show the man was in close proximity to those blazes at the time, he said, “and that was enough for us to bring him in.”
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Up to 25 officers worked on the investigation, some of whom monitored the man’s home or bike routes, Hirman said. He started as one of a dozen people on investigators’ persons-of-interest list. But when investigators uncovered fingerprint evidence from a car in one of the fires, police began tracking him and monitoring him electronically, he said.
“We had people situated in strategic areas, so if there was a fire, they could be there,” Hirman said. “It was a pretty big operation.”
Investigators believe the fires’ locations have nothing in common, though they said it appears the man visited the spots and “scoped them out” in advance, Hirman said. They also believe he acted alone, he said.
The man has a criminal history that includes domestic violence and fighting with police, though not arson, Hirman said.