Rio Hondo authorities continue to investigate rash of arson fires

NEWSCENTER 23
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Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - 11:29am

Another Rio Hondo goes up in flames despite four arrests already made in connection to multiple arsons across the small town, Na'Tassia Finley has more on the recent fire and how authorities plan to increase efforts.

Humberto Barrera, Cameron County Emergency Manager, "This fire brings us up to 15 for this area in the past month and a half."

This structure on the corner of Brown Tract Road and Villa Franca is the most recent arson in the small town of Rio Hondo. Investigators say arsonist lit it up Sunday morning just after midnight, Humberto Barrera, "We do have persons of interest already with this fire and so of course we are going to be building up a criminal case on this person."

So far four people have been arrested, linked to other confirmed arson cases around the city, since the start of the year, all of which had some tie to the Rio Hondo Volunteer Fire Department.

Humberto Barrera, "Now we have what appears to be the continuance of these arson cases. We're still trying to see whether they're linked to the previous arson cases, but we're also looking into the possibility of there being someone out there taking advantage of the moment and which the focus is on somebody else."

Meaning a copycat, Humberto Barrera, "It's equally important to us to solve this case whether it's abandoned or inhabited."

Barrera says the owner of this structure was looking to turn the building into a small store or shop in the very near future, but there was no insurance money, so they ruled him out as a suspect.

Now just a few weeks back an uninhabited two story home that sits directly next to this building was also intentionally set on fire, both structures are owned by the same person, Humberto Barrera, "The state has been very active in this case, these arson fires, they are a primary one for the state, which means it's very important for the state. They've opened up their doors to all their resources and they've sent down a couple of investigators and they've also sent us a few arson dogs."

NewsCenter 23 spoke to a number of Rio Hondo residents who declined to go on camera. All feared if they spoke publicly about the arson cases, their home may be next, Humberto Barrera, "This is going to be a long drawn out case but at the end we think justice will prevail and the person of interest that started the fire will be held accountable."

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