Investigators not ready to say house fires a pattern

When an abandoned home in north Grand Junction burned down at about midnight on Friday, April 10, nobody thought much about it. However, after a second abandoned home in the general area burned at about the same time the following Friday night, fire officials started to tune in.

As a precaution, fire officials and extra police patrol were out Friday night in the northern end of town. No fire was reported.

Despite the similarities of the fires, Grand Junction Fire Department investigator Doug
Lucas said it’s difficult to determine whether they were accidental or arson. The homes burned almost completely, so there are few leads on the causes, he said.

“If there was one more (fire), we’d probably attribute it to a serial arsonist,” Lucas said.

Near midnight on April 10, an empty home at 2473 G Road was considered a total loss after burning for hours. Firefighters weren’t able to extinguish the blaze until about 3 a.m. because access to the structure was limited. The driveway was overgrown with vegetation, and a deep canal hindered access.

On April 17, a home in the 700 block of 26 Road, just a few blocks away, burned. Neither of the homes was hooked up with utilities, so fire caused by electrical wiring was ruled out.

“I believe in coincidences to a point, but there’s probably something going on there that we need to look at,” Lucas said.

A suspect in a string of arson fires, which burned numerous sheds in the downtown Grand Junction area last year, has not yet been named. Fire officials said they believe they have identified a suspect, who they say is in custody on unrelated charges.

Spokeswoman Kate Porras of the Grand Junction Police Department, which took over the case, said their information on the suspect has been completed and turned over to the
Mesa County District Attorney’s Office for charging decisions.

Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger on Friday said he was not aware his office had received the information.


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