Two arrests have been made in a Dos Palos apartment fire police believe was the result of arson.
Suspects Andrew Saavedra, 21, and Edge Apodaca, 20, were taken into custody a short time after the blaze erupted around 8 p.m. Tuesday at 1825 Lucerne Ave.
Dos Palos Police Chief Barry Mann said witnesses saw the suspects leaving the abandoned building and fleeing the scene after the fire. Mann said no one else is believed to be involved. "We believe these two are responsible," Mann said.
Mann didn't say how the suspects allegedly started the fire at the complex. Squatters were known to frequent the building, although Mann said the suspects weren't squatters. Before the fire, county officials had posted signs saying the building wasn't habitable, and police had told the squatters to leave.
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Around 40 firefighters responded to the blaze, which caused about $50,000 in damage.
Firefighters from Dos Palos Fire Department, Merced County Fire Department, Los Banos Fire Department, Merced Fire Department and Firebaugh Fire Department responded to the scene. A chief officer from Fresno County also responded.
One firefighter from Merced Fire Department suffered minor injuries after stepping through flooring in a stairwell.
Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.