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April 17, 2013

Merced officials ask public's help in stopping fires

An early-morning fire in Fahrens Park near Black Rascal Creek on Monday marked the third blaze this month, and one of 15 in that area in the last two months, fire officials reported.

An early-morning fire in Fahrens Park near Black Rascal Creek on Monday marked the third blaze this month, and one of 15 in that area in the last two months, fire officials reported.

Since February, there have been 13 grass fires, one trash bin fire and a tree fire in the vicinity of the park at R Street and Buena Vista Drive, according to Battalion Chief Don Roe of the Merced Fire Department.

Fire officials believe the fires are intentional and are asking for the public’s help in putting a stop to them — especially as the weather gets warmer and the blazes spread more quickly.

“When you add the element of elevated temperatures, our concern is one of these fires will get out of hand,” Roe said. “It could spread to a structure and hurt somebody.”

As the temperatures spike, residents can help prevent fires by being aware of hazards near their home, Roe noted.

For example, combustible materials such as wood piles, cardboard boxes, excessive vegetation, weeds or grass clippings should be kept away from houses.

“It just adds to the amount of fuel in and around the structure,” Roe noted.

Anyone with information about the fires is encouraged to call the Merced Fire Department’s arson tip line at (209) 388-8822 or the Merced Police Department’s automated tip line at (209) 385-4725.

Reporter Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or rgiwargis@mercedsunstar.com.

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