'Amateur' arsonists sought after 3 fires in 5 weeks - KPTV - FOX 12

'Amateur' arsonists sought after 3 fires in 5 weeks

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Three fires in five weeks in a Salem strip mall have investigators asking for the public's help in finding "amateurish" arsonists.

The latest fire broke out around 4:15 a.m. Thursday on Portland Road Northeast. Firefighters extinguished the flames within an hour, and an investigator said the La Movida Bar and Grill suffered the most damage.

In two previous fires at the strip mall, flammable liquids were used as an accelerant, and this fire appears to be of a similar nature, an investigator said.

"The efforts have been fairly amateurish, but still it's very disconcerting," said Lt. Steve Birr, with the Salem Police Department. "It's dangerous for the firefighters who have to repetitively come out here and put these fires out."

The building has a good sprinkler system, police said. There are about five businesses in the strip mall.

No injuries were reported in Thursday's fire. Seven fire engines, three ladder trucks and 31 firefighters responded.

So far, police haven't released any descriptions of suspects. But in the previous fires, two suspects were seen running away in surveillance video.

"I've never seen someone more determined to torch a building in 30 years of law enforcement," Birr said.

Birr said the suspects have made efforts to conceal their identities.

Anyone with information on who is responsible for the fires is asked to call police.

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