Investigators arrested a man suspected of starting more than 20 fires in recent weeks on Thursday, a particularly dangerous offense as Texas suffers from drought conditions.
The Fort Worth Fire Department’s arson investigation unit arrested Julio Cesar Frausto, 32, as he left the location of a fire he allegedly set in a nearby park on July 28.
The investigators identified him as a person of interest, and witnesses described seeing someone matching his description leaving the area of a fire, leading to the arrest.
Once in custody, Frausto reportedly confessed to setting not only that fire but many other grass fires in the Fort Worth area recently. In total, Frausto is thought to have potentially started more than 20 fires “over multiple days in and near Buck Sansom Park.”
Fort Worth Fire Department spokesman Craig Trojack commented, “For somebody to be in the mindset that they could go out there and do this intentionally, is a big deal to us.”
Officials with the police department described the investigation in the incident report, which read:
“After conducting a systematic examination of the fire scene, evaluating the fire patterns of movement and intensity, interviewing witnesses and Julio Frausto, employing the scientific method by means of formulating and discarding hypotheses … accidental and natural causes were ruled out.”
Law enforcement concluded with the explanation that “these fires were started by the [suspect] introducing an open flame device in close proximity to common combustibles and dry vegetation.”
Police “classified the fire as ‘Incendiary’ and determined the intentionally-set fires on open-space land meet the elements for ‘Arson.’”
The suspected arsonist will face a second-degree felony arson charge, a second-degree felony for the fraudulent use or possession of identifying information, and a misdemeanor for evading arrest. Both felonies are punishable by up to $10,000 and 20 years in prison.