DELHI — Merced County Sheriff’s investigators say two people have been arrested on suspicion of starting a fire which destroyed at a popular pizza restaurant early Monday.
Suspects Samuel Mariscal, 29, and Erin Cole, 23, of Turlock were taken into custody after a witness reported seeing Mariscal throwing something inside of the KC's Pizza on the 9000 block of Shanks Avenue. The witness said Mariscal and Cole, who was driving a 2006 grey Chevy Cobalt, left the scene after the fire started, according to Tom MacKenzie, sheriff's spokesperson.
Minutes after law enforcement and CAL FIRE/Merced County Fire firefighters reponded to the fire around 12:40 a.m., however, MacKenzie said the pair was seen driving by the restaurant, which was in flames. The witness recognized the car and pointed it out to a sheriff's deputy, who pulled the car over, MacKenzie said.
MacKenzie said the deputy immediately smelled gas fumes coming from inside of the suspects' car. Inside the vehicle, investigators found pieces of clothing and rags that were soaked with gasoline, MacKenzie said.
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Mariscal and Cole are being held at the Merced County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail each. Mariscal is an employee at KC's Pizza, and the brother-in-law of the owner, according to MacKenzie.
The fire is under investigation, MacKenzie said.