Transient arrested for allegedly starting fire in vacant building

02/26/2013 6:30 PM

02/26/2013 6:44 PM

A homeless man was arrested early Tuesday morning on suspicion of setting fire to a portable office building at a former lumber yard near the corner of Highway 59 and Santa Fe Drive.

Michael Moyer, 53, was arrested by the Merced Police Department and booked on suspicion of arson. No injuries were reported.

The fire started around 7 a.m. and was under control by 7:25 a.m. said Battalion Chief Don Roe of the Merced Fire Department. Three engines and a truck responded to the scene with 13 personnel. The Merced Police Department also responded.

The building was unoccupied, but there were transients living in it, Roe said. First responders were originally worried that there were transients caught in the fire, but after searching through the debris, that concern was ruled out.

There were four transients in the area at the time of the fire, but officials suspect that it was only Moyer who started the fire, Roe said.

Though severely damaged by the blaze, much of the building was still intact after the fire was extinguished.

Roe said the structure was already in poor condition when the fire started. He estimated the damage to be about $5,000. There were no utilities running to the building.

Officials are still investigating the incident. It's unknown who originally alerted authorities about the fire at the site that 84 Lumber Co. used to operate out of. The company closed the location in 2007.

Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or

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