Six of 15 Fires Battled by Burbank-Paradise Fire Department Considered Arson

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WEST MODESTO --

In the last three months, the Burbank Paradise Fire Department in West Modesto has fought 15 fires, six of which are considered arson cases.

The boarded-up windows and spray painted warnings are part of a shield that neighbor Serefin Moreno said isn’t enough to keep squatters away.

"We got a lot of trouble with these people right here. They put drugs in my property… you know… needles,” Moreno said.

Moreno lives near a problematic home on Briggs Avenue, and besides drugs and homelessness, he’s also seen his fair share of fires.

"Every night I see peoples coming right there, you know? It’s late night,” he explained.

Including a recent one that blackened parts of the home. The cause, according to fire investigators, unknown. The investigation, categorized as arson.

“(The fires) are on residences that have no electricity to them, so it’s going to be a man made source some how,” Chief Mike Hillar with the Burbank-Paradise Fire Department said.

Hillar said over the last three months they’ve had at least six suspicious fires out of the 15 they’ve fought.

Including John Street, where twice someone has lit garbage cans and set a blaze right next to a home.

“It’s hard to say what is, you know, what is going to fix the problem,” Hillar said.

One of the issues, Hillar explained, is the number of vacant homes that are often abandoned and used as encampments -- including a now burnt house on Donald Street.

But not all of these fires have to end like the home on Donald, the chief and other fire officials said property owners can do their part. For instance, install fences, surveillance cameras and tell neighbors to watch over their homes.

As for Moreno, he hopes to buy the lot next door so that he can clean it up and protect it himself,

"That’s all. Put a lock right there and nobody come in,” Moreno said.