STOCKTON (CBS13) – The Stockton Fire and Police departments were busy over the weekend responding to fires in different parts of the city, several of which were intentionally set.
It brings the total number of arson cases up to more than 126 compared to 56 cases around this time this year.
Stockton businessman Ignacio Martinez is looking over the damage left behind by a fire that police say was intentionally set behind his storefront.
“I just found out about it this morning, and I was like ‘wait a minute, that’s like, three pine trees right there,’ and it went up,” said Martinez.
The fire happened near a dumpster where Stockton police say a 46-year-old transient lit a tree that quickly went up in flames. He was arrested, and luckily, there was no real damage to the building except for six pine trees that were destroyed.
“It was very close,” Martinez said.
Stockton police say the jump in the number of suspicious fires over the last year is due, in part, to the education taking place around the community.
“We always tell them, when you see a crime please report it. So, that is what we’re seeing a lot more of, people are seeing these fires that are in the park, in a dumpster near a business, they are calling the police and the fire department immediately so we can respond,” said Joe Silva, Stockton Police Department.
Some people start fires to stay warm, while other arsonists have admitted they deliberately start fires just to cause damage to the community, while others maliciously set them for pure excitement.
“Our arson investor works side-by-side with the fire departments, arson investigation teams and what they will do is they will go and look for certain type of evidence that’s left behind and a lot of times it’s based on the evidence they do find at a scene, they can tell if it was deliberately set,” said Silva.
The person who set the fire here at McKinley Park was gone by the time firefighters and police arrived.
Officers say they will continue to work with the community, encouraging witnesses to come forward with any crime.