HOUSTON - A man was taken into custody Saturday afternoon after Houston arson investigators looked into a string of fires happening on the same day, mostly around the same area.
There were seven fires, in seven spots, all burning Wednesday, October 7, 2020.
“We’ve had a series of fires - with boots on the ground and good investigative work, we’ve determined and brought in these fires that we have right now which led to arrest warrants,” says Alison Stein, Deputy Chief Investigator.
Following a four-day investigation of GPS tracking and pooling surveillance video, Houston arson investigators say 28-year-old Joshua Rauch has confessed and is in custody.
Investigators say their work started before the string of fires after they found evidence of arson in other incidents.
“We know seven arsons we can link directly to this individual,” says Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña.
The team says Rauch’s silver Ford Focus was captured on surveillance at a shed fire behind the El Moreliano Meat Market on W. 34th St. It was also linked to a fire at the University of Houston Downtown.
That same night, first responders were called to a trash fire and a car burning, discovered within one mile, and believed to be set within half an hour.
Investigators add that most of the fires were set in the Greater Heights area but do believe their suspect may be linked to other blazes going back months.
“Fortunately no one was injured. There was no loss of life or injury to property owners or first responders that responded to these fires to ensure that they were put out safely,” says Peña.
Based on evidence at the time of a press conference held Saturday afternoon, Rauch was being charged with second-degree felony arson since the damage was limited to the burning of vehicles, trash, and sheds, and no places of residence.
“Arson, no matter what form, if it’s committed in the city of Houston, the Houston Fire Department’s Arson Bureau will find you,” said Peña. “We will arrest you, and we will prosecute you.”
The Houston Fire Department says it is digging for the motive behind the seven fires set on October 7, a number that could prove unlucky for the suspect if charges get bumped up as the investigation expands.