Yuma Arsonist Behind Bars; Residents React and Rebuild One Day Later
Story By Tim Lavigne, Meteorologist and Reporter
YUMA, Ariz. (13 On Your Side) - An Arsonist who police say set 12 fires in less than an hour Friday Night starting at Crescent Center on 4th Avenue and ending on Catalina Drive is behind bars. Police arrested Antonio Salazar Jr, 27, on Friday night near 1st Avenue and Catalina Drive. Luckily, no one was hurt, but police say they are still investigating and have yet to determine the exact dollar amount of the damage.
On Saturday, Salazar went before a judge for his initial appearance, where Judge George Hofer ordered Salazar be held on a $713,000 bond, and read a laundry list of charges including felony arson, reckless burning, criminal damage, and endangerment. when Salazar was allowed to make a statement at the end of the hearing, he accused Yuma Police of violating his constitutional rights, and refused to sign papers given to him by the court.
Stephanie Bray - the victim of the 8th fire police say Salazar set - was in shock that someone would be brazen enough to intentionally set one fire, let alone 12.
"I got two fires on each side of my yard, and I just don't get it, somebody in the alley let fire to my fence and now there's nothing there and I don't get why someone would do something like that." Bray told 13 On Your Side last night as the fires in her yard raged like a towering inferno. Bray says the fires caused thousands of dollars in damage, completely destroyed her shed, melted the filter connected to her pool, and destroyed her fence and palm trees. The fire also melted an aluminum electrical cable that provided power to Bray's next door neighbor. For Bray, fixing the damage is not going to be easy because she says money is tight in her household. "I'll just have to take it day by day, and figure out what I have to work with. I mean its not like a have a tree full of money in the backyard to pay for the damages" said Bray.
Bray says she's happy Yuma Police were able to make an arrest so quickly. " I was relived when they told me they caught someone because I was leery that he was going to come back and finish what he started". said Bray.
But she's most thankful for is her neighbors daughter, Yasmin Zaragoza, who alerted Bray to the fires in her backyard. Zaragoza told 13 On Your Side on Friday that she "ran over there and knocked on the door, and a man came out and said what happened, and I said your outside is burning" to Bray and her family.
Bray says if it wasn't for Zaragoza, there's no telling what else the fire could have destroyed.
As for Salazar, the future -if convicted could largely be spent behind bars, because felony arson of an occupied structure carries with it a maximum punishable sentence of 10 years in prison according to Arizona General Statutes. We will continue to stay on top of this stroy and bring you the updates as they become available.
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