One person has been arrested for igniting a fire that blazed through eight cars, a carport and a duplex, leaving six people displaced from their homes, the Turlock Fire Department reported.
The fire in the 1100 block of Colorado Avenue broke out shortly after 10 p.m. Sunday and firefighters remained on scene until about 5 a.m., said Turlock Fire spokesman Capt. Jason Bernard.
The arson suspect was identified as Santiago Ojeda Astruga. He was taken into custody by the Turlock Police Department about two hours after the fire was started, said Turlock Police Department spokeswoman Dominique Sanchez.
The initial call reported one vehicle on fire under a carport and was upgraded to a potential structure fire as the first engine was en route to the call.
Very quickly the call was upgraded to a working structure fire as the flames raged from one vehicle to another and raced over the carport to the roofline of the single-story duplex and into the attic.
The Turlock Fire Department had every engine, Squad 32 and a battalion chief responding to the scene, as well as requesting four engines, one truck, one quint and additional battalion chiefs from other agencies.
The flames and smoke could be seen from a distance and several explosions rattled neighbors, some of whom decided to leave the immediate area. The explosions came from tires exploding, Bernard said.
There were no injuries reported from the fire.
The Turlock Police Department closed down Colorado Avenue between Hawkeye Avenue and Main Street and Escondido Avenue during the incident. The officers setting up the traffic control were approached by some of the residents from the duplex who said they believed the fire started under their vehicle and that it was an intentional act.
The residents told the officers that Astruga was the ex-boyfriend of a relative and had come to the duplex looking for his ex-girlfriend. Not finding her, he said he was leaving and it was in the immediate aftermath that the fire started, according to the police report.
The victims told the officers that Astruga had made threats to burn their car and residence, Sanchez said.
The ex-girlfriend arrived at the scene and reported a domestic violence incident that had happened the night prior.
Officers went to Astruga’s last known residence and found him there. He attempted to flee but was quickly apprehended. He was booked into Stanislaus County Jail on suspicion of domestic violence and 11 arson-related charges.
Doorbell cameras helped investigators determine it was an arson fire.
The six people burned out of their residences were four adults and two children. The Red Cross was called to the scene but the individuals all had places to stay for the night.
The early estimate put the damage at $400,000.
The investigation is ongoing.