VIDEO: 4 possible arson fires in downtown Palo Alto within hours


PALO ALTO (KRON) — Palo Alto police are investigating four fires on Friday morning.

All four occurred within a few hours and all within a few blocks of each other in downtown Palo Alto.

Police are looking for a person of interest in the case.

A dumpster on Palo Alto Avenue was set ablaze about 4:30 a.m. It was the second of four fires, all of which are considered suspicious, and investigators are calling on the public to help them catch the guilty party.

Just after 2 a.m. Friday, firefighters were called to the scene of a fully engulfed vehicle in the Caltrain parking lot on Urban Lane. Then, about 4:30 a.m., another call came in from the 100 block of Palo Alto Avenue, about two blocks away, where firefighters quickly doused a fully-loaded dumpster.

An hour later, a third fire was reported, again in a dumpster. This one was located inside a parking garage on High Street.

And even as they were headed to the parking garage, a four fire was reported in some brush alongside the bike path just south of the Homer Avenue Tunnel.

“It’s very unusual to have this many fires without an obvious explanation,” Palo Alto police Lt. David Reifschneider said. “All of the fires so close together and all within a few hours of each other. It’s very suspicious.”

No one was hurt in any of the fires, although the vehicle sustained heavy damage.

Arson investigators are hunting for something that will connect the fires and police have one fairly good lead–a person of interest whose image was captured by a security camera at a business near the dumpster fire on Palo Alto Avenue.

“It appears to be an adult male who was walking in the area minutes after the dumpster fire was reported, so we’ve released an image of him, and we are hoping that someone might know him or remember seeing him in the area, and that they will contact us, so we can identify and arrest him,” Reifschneider said.

Detectives are now canvassing other businesses and homes in the area for other possible surveillance images, and Caltrain riders encouraged to share anything suspicious they might have seen Friday morning.

As for a description of the person of interest, police say it is an adult male, wearing a beanie-type cap, light colored long-sleeve shirt, dark colored pants, and the man had a backpack.



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