Hate crime and suspicious fires might be linked

On Friday, September 25th, 2020, at approximately 12:45 am, the Turlock Fire Department received a call of a vegetation fire at the intersection of N Mitchell Rd and Starr Ave. The Turlock Fire Department responded with Engine 31 and Engine 33.

Engine 31 arrived on scene at approximately 12:50 am. Captain 31 assumed Mitchell command and reported a very small fire that they could handle. Engine 33 was cancelled while responding. The fire was quickly put out and Engine 31 went clear and available.

Later that morning, shortly after 2:20 am, the Turlock Fire Department received a call of a fence on fire at an apartment complex located at 1097 N Olive Ave. The department originally responded with Battalion 4, Engine 31, Engine 33, and Engine 34, however, while they were responding, another caller reported that the fire reached the apartment building. This upgraded it to a working structure fire and added Squad 32 as well as Ceres Battalion 3 and Ceres Engine 15.

Engine 31 arrived on scene shortly after 2:25 am. Captain 31 assumed Olive command and put Engine 31 in the investigation mode. He reported light smoke showing from the back of the complex. While investigating, it was determined that it did not reach the apartment and it was just the fence and a tree that was on fire. Working structure fire resources were cancelled at this time. Crews worked on extinguishing this fire and cleared shortly after.

Due to the proximity in location and time between the two fires, an investigation was started. It was learned that the fence adjacent to the one involved in the second fire had graffiti spray painted on it with a racial slur. The graffiti reportedly showed up on the fence within the last week.

Both fires and the graffiti are all under investigation. It has not yet been determined if they are related or not. Anyone with information regarding these incidents is encouraged to contact Officer Martin Marquez at 209-668-5550 extension 6761 or by email at MMarquez@turlock.ca.us. You can also leave an anonymous tip at the Turlock Police Department’s tip line at 209-668-5550 extension 6780 or by email at tpdtipline@turlock.ca.us.

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