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Suspicious fires in Temple under investigation

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Posted at 9:32 PM, Mar 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-26 22:32:17-04

TEMPLE, TX — Investigators are working to solve two suspicious fires in Temple.

As they work to examine the evidence in both cases, officials say this is a good time to remind Bell County residents about protecting property and neighborhoods.

“A fire investigation is much like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. You have pieces, you’re trying to create a picture, and you do that based on the evidence that you find,” said Thomas Pechal, with Temple Fire and Rescue.

On March 15, firefighters responded to a fire in a vacant home on N. 4th street. The house was a total loss and a car was destroyed. The siding on a neighboring home melted on one side from the radiant heat.

“When I walked out the house was already gone,” said Tina Anzaldua, an eyewitness who saw the fire.

Investigators say two people were inside who did not have permission to use the home. There were no utilities in the condemned home.

“I heard the lady screaming, and open the window and all you see is flames. The fire is really big,” said Destanie Anzaldua, an eyewitness.

Meanwhile, investigators are searching for the suspect involved in starting a fire on Red Coat drive. A utility box and wooden privacy fence caught fire, causing phone and internet service to be cut throughout the neighborhood.

“Don’t wait until something happens and then come and let us know after the fact, 'well I had seen some suspicious activity,'” said Pechal.

Vacant homes can often present inherent risks. These buildings are often not maintained and can serve as a common site for illicit or illegal activity. Vacant buildings are sometimes used by homeless people as temporary shelters.

Homeowners can take steps to reduce their risk:

  • Keep the area tidy by mowing grass and remove trash.
  • Remove all possible sources of ignition such as flammable liquids and unused gasoline containers.
  • Secure abandoned and vacant homes.
  • Turn porch lights on at night or add lighting.
  • Check vacant property on a regular basis.