Tenant may have set series of fires

The individual responsible for setting at least six suspicious fires — suspected acts of arson — at the Westlake Village Apartments complex may have been someone from the inside, police said Thursday.

There have been six fires so far this year — some coming at odd hours of the early morning, frightening residents concerned for their safety — at the 3,000-unit apartment complex. Though the property spans 47 acres, the suspicious fires have been relegated to buildings around the Boulevard Cafe, police said.

Residents, including Marcel Lee, who said management was not properly addressing the issue, were among those who felt unsafe in the apartment complex. Many considered leaving if something didn’t change.

The first fire this year was in January; the last hit the complex on Labor Day weekend, Daly City police Det. Jeff Tallerico said. In June, a midnight fire took place in the parking garage under one of the buildings. There was a car fire in February, and residents reported spray-paint vandalism, tire slashing and other trash fires since summer 2006.

North County Fire Authority officials told The Examiner in June that there was no evidence of arson or an incendiary device that caused the fire that happened that month, but police are now saying the fires appear to be malicious.

After the February car fire, building management asked residents to be aware of their surroundings and keep alert of suspicious activity near the buildings behind the Boulevard Cafe, located off John Daly Boulevard.

Now, apartment management, according to a flier handed out to all residents, is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the fires.

There has been damage to the property itself, but police do not have cost estimates on how much, Tallerico said

“We don’t have any solid leads yet,” Tallerico said. “But my gut feeling, based on some of our findings, is that it’s someone who lives in the complex.”

Any suspicious fires are referred to the police for further investigation, North County Fire Authority spokeswoman Angelina Ciucci said. The agency is assisting in the investigation.

“There have been a number of fires in that complex and we’re contributing as much as we can to the investigation,” Ciucci said.

tramroop@examiner.com

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