Police have taken a 55-year-old man and a woman into custody in the aftermath of a suspected arson fire that sent intense flames roaring through row houses in San Francisco early Tuesday, damaging several homes and displacing about a dozen people, authorities said.
Before noon, a second person - a woman who came back to retrieve her cat - had also been arrested in connection with the four-alarm fire that damaged two unoccupied buildings on Boutwell Street near Bayshore Boulevard and Augusta Street.
Both were arrested on charges of "reckless arson," said San Francisco Police Department spokesman Carlos Manfredi.
Police did not immediately release the suspects' names or photographs.
The neighborhood is near the city's Bayview District, an industrial area on the outskirts of the city near Candlestick Park.
This is the second fire to damage these buildings, fire officials said; the other time a few years ago also occurred near the July 4 holiday.
No one was seriously injured, though one person was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation. However, just about 9 a.m., fire officials told NBC Bay Area, they heard reports that there might be two women someone inside one of the buildings. Fire crews were waiting until it was safe to go inside to find out.
Fire crews also said they found a gas can nearby, and they smelled gasoline when they arrived.
Early in the morning, the American Red Cross was on scene to help, saying they were assisting 19 adults and three children.
The fire started in a vacant building, said Fire Capt. Mark Gonzales, adding that up to 150 firefighters were battling the fire.
Witnesses said they saw the 55-year-old man, originally reported to be a 61-year-old man, carrying "some kind of incendiary device." He was arrested when he later returned to the fire scene, Manfredi said.
Neighbors told reporters that the area is home to many squatters, and the man may have been one of them.
Two women reported seeing him running away from the scene with a gasoline can, the station reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
To see the full report by Bob Redell and Christie Smith, click here.
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