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Serial arsonist unnerves San Jose residents after 13 fires

San Jose residents are rallying to find a serial arsonist accused of setting at least 13 fires since Wednesday.

No one has been seriously injured in the early morning fires, but authorities fear that good luck could run out if the arsonist isn't caught soon. Police believe the arsonist is using newspaper or cardboard to set the fires, which have ranged in size and scope.

An elderly couple narrowly escaped one of the fires early Saturday after a man and his son reportedly broke through a window to pull them to safety.

"We have been very fortunate that these fires have not resulted in serious injury or death to our residents," San Jose Fire Battalion Chief Robert Sapien said at a news conference on Saturday. "Should these fires continue, I fear this good fortune may run out."

The fires were set Wednesday, Thursday and Friday between 2 and 6 a.m. in the downtown area, according to San Jose police.

San Jose police released a sketch of the suspect -- described as a tall, thin man aged 25 to 40 --over the weekend in the hopes of generating leads in their investigation. The local firefighters union also announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the arsonist.

Residents, meanwhile, rallied over the weekend, going door-to-door to distribute fliers and warn neighbors.

Erik Kupferer, whose home is across the street from the house where the elderly couple was rescued, told CBS Bay Area it was unnerving knowing that the arsonist was still on the loose.

“Knowing that he’s picking at random homes…mine could have easily been the one that burned down," he said. 

Anyone with information was encouraged to call fire investigators at (408) 930-5491. To remain anonymous, call (408) 272-7766.

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jason.wells@latimes.com

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