SAN JOSE -- A San Jose city councilman will distribute fliers and is organizing a "block watch" near a downtown neighborhood after fire crews extinguished two more blazes Sunday that are suspected to be the work of an arsonist, and a third that is still under investigation.
Councilman Sam Liccardo said he will meet residents at 1 p.m. Sunday at the corner of Santa Clara and 17th streets and will distribute sketches of a man suspected of setting at least 12 blazes in the downtown area since Wednesday. The latest two occurred overnight Sunday morning, one in the first block of South 24th Street around 1:55 a.m. and the other in the area of South 26th and East San Antonio streets around 5 a.m., according to fire Capt. Rob Brown.
A third fire, just before 7:30 a.m. in the 1300 block of East San Antonio, may be accidental, Brown said.
The first of Sunday morning's fires was put out by neighbors before crews arrived on the scene, Brown said. The second fire was in the rear lot at the rear Great Saint John Baptist Church, the same place where a suspicious fire was set on Wednesday, Brown said.
This fire damaged the exterior of a trailer and scorched some of the plywood that had been put up in the wake of Wednesday's fire, Brown said. Crews put out the blaze in minutes, he said.
No injuries were reported in either blaze, Ehlers said.
The third fire Sunday in the neighborhood appears to be accidental, Brown said. That fire came brushed against a shed-like building outside a mobile home, he said, and some smoking materials were found near the area. The occupants were not displaced, he said.
In a posting on his Facebook page, Liccardo said his office is seeking volunteers who are willing to stay up for specific shifts in the neighborhoods that have been affected by the recent fires. The fires have burned in the Roosevelt, Little Portugal, Wooster and Five Wounds neighborhoods, as well as the eastern parts of the Brookwood Terrace, Naglee Park and Northside neighborhoods. The shifts run from midnight-2 a.m.; 2-4 a.m. and 4-6 a.m.
Liccardo emphasized that the volunteers would be asked only to watch the neighborhood and that his office would "discourage anyone from confronting the suspect" and "walking the streets" during those hours.
Firefighters have previously offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arsonist's arrest, and had released a sketch of the suspect.
Liccardo said in a second Facebook posting that his staff would pass out sketches of the suspect, pass out batteries and smoke detectors, convey key prevention tips and provide an arson tip line.
Check back for updates.
Contact Rick Hurd at 925-945-4789 and follow him at Twitter.com/3rdERH.