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2 arrested in Long Beach arsons

Times Staff Writer

Two men have been arrested on suspicion of setting 26 fires in Long Beach during a two-week period, authorities said Wednesday.

Caldrin Benitez and Juan Alvarez, both 22, are suspected of setting fire to vehicles, trees, trash bins and building exteriors in a four- to six-block area around West Long Beach, Long Beach Fire Department Capt. Mike Duree said.

The fires began June 30 with four trash fires, three vehicle fires and one brush fire reported in the first 24 hours, Duree said. Subsequent fires set at homes and businesses caused no structural damage, and there have been no reported injuries, he said.

The fires were set in the area bordered by Spring and Willow streets and Adriatic and Santa Fe avenues.

Although they were set at various times of the day, the fires had a similar pattern, Duree said, and were set near where Benitez and Alvarez lived, he said.

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“Whatever was lit on fire to begin with just seemed to be there,” he said. “A consecutive string of fires that meet a certain pattern, this is not the norm.”

Investigators from the Long Beach police and fire departments used surveillance video to identify the suspects, Duree said. In one video, from a security camera at a mini-mart at Willow and Santa Fe, Benitez and Alvarez are shown walking into the frame, where smoke and fire are visible in the corner, and then leaving the scene, he said.

Benitez and Alvarez are in jail pending charges, Duree said.

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joanna.lin@latimes.com


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