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Firebug strikes building for 4th time

Arsonist on the loose continues destruction along Moffat

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Firebug strikes building for 4th time

Captain Rob Grycel douses the remnants of an attic fire of suspicious origin Monday afternoon – the fourth in two years.

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

POSTED October 16, 2012 1:56 a.m.

Manteca Police are looking for a firebug responsible for a Monday afternoon structure fire on Moffat Boulevard that broke out shortly after 5 p.m. – the fourth fire to the former San Joaquin County Agricultural Services in the last two years.

Three Manteca fire units responded to the scene and extinguished flames in a rear room and in the full attic of the concrete block building.

Witnesses reported seeing a man and a woman exit the structure shortly after they noticed the blaze with smoke and flames coming from the rear of the roof.  He was described as being over six-foot tall, in his early 40s with straight brown hair and wearing a red shirt and the woman was said to be a blonde.

One Manteca officer located a man fitting that description in a nearby Happy Hollow Trailer Court near Moffat Boulevard and Sherman Street.  He admitted to having been in the building shortly after the fire started, but said he was only there to check and to make sure no one was trapped after he noticed the smoke.

Battalion Chief Dave Marques said he felt the fire was 100 percent suspicious since there was no electricity to the building and they could find no other possible causes for the structure to ignite.  A number of homeless individuals were believed to have been bedding down in the building days before the fire broke out.  One small room, that had been used as a bedroom and untouched by the flames, was still intact.

There was also evidence that others had been sleeping on the ground behind the building where blankets and clothing remnants were strewn along with one partially filled syringe.

The building at the south end of Sherman Avenue is owned by San Joaquin County and was leased years ago to the city of Manteca.  The police department made use of the facility in the distant past for members of its detective unit.

Firefighters climbed onto the roof and trained a high pressure hose into an attic opening to quell any possible leftover hot spots.  Moffat Boulevard was closed to through traffic during the incident for over an hour.

Several other buildings within a two block area of Moffat Boulevard have been burned down in a series of suspected arson fires over the last several years.

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