MESA, AZ — A man has been arrested after setting two fires at a hoarding house near Center Street and University Drive in Mesa Sunday afternoon.
According to court documents, a fire was noticed by members of a nearby church who stepped in and tried to extinguish the fire in the backyard using a garden hose.
When fire crews arrived, they relieved the church members and began using a fire retardant foam to extinguish the fire.
As crews battled the fire, David Bybee, 67, was on the property and reportedly told firefighters where the fire was located and gave specifics about what was in the backyard of the home. He also allegedly stated that it would "only take one cigarette and the entire place would go up in flames," according to court paperwork.
Officials say they then responded to the house for a second time later that afternoon for another fire. At the time, Bybee was directly across the street.
Officers say a neighbor told them that Bybee is a known transient and has permission to sleep on the driveway of the home by the renter of the property. The neighbor says after the first fire, he and Bybee left for a short while and then returned back home.
Bybee allegedly went back into the house and then came knocking on the neighbor's door to alert him of a much larger fire.
After further investigation, officials say Bybee was alone at the home during the fires and the renter says although he hoards items, he has no electrical cords or fire accelerants in the backyard.
A K9 unit was deployed, who detected fire accelerants on the hands and clothes of Bybee.
Bybee was then arrested on two outstanding warrants and for further questioning regarding the fire.
Court documents say Bybee told officials a neighbor that he threw cigarette butts in the backyard the night before and he had no idea how the fire began or how fire accelerants were discovered on him.
Officials say Bybee denies starting the fire and was previously convicted for arson, false report, criminal trespassing among several other charges.