Arson suspected in string of Gilroy fires

Authorities investigating a series of fires in Gilroy that occurred over the span of a week, suspect that the blazes were intentionally set.

The fires began during the week of July 4, leading some residents in Gilroy to initially assume that the holiday celebrations were to blame.


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"We had just walked out and saw the flames back there. We didn't know. We thought it was from fireworks," shared one neighbor.

However, the incidents continued each day, with locations including a burned trailer behind Cardenas Market, a CVS wall, several dumpsters, and several fences.

"It's strange because it continued to trickle in throughout the week. We had a total of 10 incidents by the time Thursday afternoon came along," said Detective Catalina Fraide with the Gilroy Police Department.

Investigators now suspect that all 10 incidents were acts of arson.

"Thankfully a lot of these businesses were very helpful. They provided surveillance information that led us ultimately to arrest our first suspect," said Fraide.

Authorities arrested 26-year-old Chase Harlow in connection with the fire at CVS. However, surveillance video shows a different suspect at some of the other fire scenes.

"Absolutely. I do believe there is more than one suspect responsible for these fires," said Fraide.

As investigators work to locate the second alleged arsonist, they face various challenges.

The fires occurred in both downtown and the northern part of town, at apartment complexes and businesses. The suspect has been traveling by bike and on foot.

"I don't like the idea that there's somebody out there doing that," said resident Robert Martinez of Gilroy. He adds, "All I can do is if I see something report it."

Authorities said reporting any suspicious activity is key. They hope to arrest the suspect before anyone gets hurt.

"Thankfully at this time there's only been property damage, but I would hate for anybody to be injured as a result of this recklessness," said Fraide.

Investigators said there is no way of determining whether the arsonist might strike again and urged the public to remain vigilant.

They encourage residents to review any available surveillance footage and to report any information related to fires at (408) 846-0335 or call the anonymous tip line at (408) 846-0330.