Chandler police investigating series of suspicious fires in the Pepperwood neighborhood

Posted at 10:37 PM, Sep 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-14 01:39:36-04

Police are trying to figure out if they have a serial arsonist on their hands after five suspicious fires in the last month.

A trailer, car, shed, backyard fence and house have all caught fire in the Pepperwood neighborhood near Chandler Boulevard and McClintock.

The latest and largest fire ignited in a house on Tyson Street that gutted the interior. The residents had recently moved out so no one was hurt.

Tom Leeper's back yard borders that house and says he was woken up by police warning him of the fire and telling him he may have to get ready to leave quickly.

"When I walked out it was like daylight. I turned the corner of my house, I mean the whole back of the house, [was] flames shooting up," said Leeper. 

Once outside, he started hosing down his own property to protect it.

Leeper says two other fires have also sparked recently on his block.

One couple was woken up by neighbors pounding on their door alerting them their pop-up trailer was on fire in the driveway. They say the generator was off and there was no fuel source that could’ve started it.

Leeper says another neighbor came home to find his shed on fire as he took the dogs out. He used a garden hose to fight the flames until helped arrived as the flames spread to the wall of his home. He’s convinced the same person is responsible and getting bolder.

Keith Vazquez lives blocks away and had to grab a garden hose and help firefighters to put out the fire in his yard. He says the flames were 20 feet high. He thinks someone in the back alley set it and it spread through his fence, up a tree and burned a truck he’d just rebuilt to sell.

"No ignition source back there so the fire department thinks someone had to have started it," said Vazquez.

Police can’t say if the fires are connected but they are looking for a clear pattern. Officers are asking the community to be alert and report any suspicious cars or people around the neighborhood.

"We look out for each other, this is unacceptable. We're gonna find you," said Leeper.