Thursday , May 23 2024

Arson suspect in custody today after multiple fires

Employees working in businesses offices near the Fresno Airport got quite a scare this morning as fire crews battled a series of arson fires.

Fire fighters were able to limit the damage to a few small burn areas. Investigators say at least five fires in the area were started by a homeless woman.

At about 9:30 Monday morning the fires burned in several locations near Gateway and Clinton. The smell of thick smoke was so close to the offices here it drew people outside.

This is where they found a wall of flames burning in this lot. People working in this area say they’re thankful for the quick work of firefighters and that police believe they’ve caught the woman responsible.

"I thought the building was on fire," said Liberty Blair who works at an office building near where one of the arson fires was set.

That’s how close the flames came to Blair’s office building.

"It started back here by this building and it seems like the time I came out of my back door to come over here it was just moving," she said.

She took these pictures outside her office near Clinton and Gateway.

"By the time they got over here the flames were getting pretty high. It was getting pretty scary," she said.

Fire crews were already nearby scrambling to keep up with five different fires they believe were started by this woman using this lighter.

"She was setting them everywhere that she could," Tony Escobido, with the Fresno Fire Department said. "We had fires in dumpsters, in brush, and alongside businesses."

"While they were dousing this fire. They got calls for three additional fires this way. We looked over this building and we could just see dark smoke," Blair said.

Fire crews say two men witnessed the homeless woman in her 40s trying to start another fire and held her down until police arrived.

"We have a lot of witnesses who came up to me and stated they saw her set the fires and they saw her throw the lighter and also where she threw the lighter," Escobido said.

As investigators and fire crews finish their work at the scene, witnesses can’t believe how rapidly the fires started.

"She worked fast. I mean she just must’ve gone down the street just setting them. That was scary. I’m glad they found her before she did any more damage," she said.

Delores Feline Imperatrice, 42, was booked Monday afternoon and charged with arson.

First responders say she was on their radar before being picked up today. Investigators are working to see if she may have played a role in any other arson fires in the Fresno area.

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