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Juveniles suspected in Joplin fires - KOAM TV 7

Juveniles suspected in Joplin fires

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Updated July 16, 2012:  Police in Joplin believe they know the people suspected of setting two fires last week.  Each fire caused substantial damage.

The fires are not being classified as arson because they were not inside homes, but police say each fire was not an accident.

The first fire occurred at a garage at 531 North Moffett late Tuesday afternoon.  About 40 minutes later fire crews were also called to another garage at 707 North Sergeant Street, which is only a few blocks away.  Both buildings have extensive damage.

According to police, a man and his children were at the property where the first fire happened, but escaped without injury.  Police say a jogger noticed the second fire.

"People's personal property had been destroyed," says Corporal Chuck Niess of the Joplin Police Department.  "One of the other property owners also had property destroyed, because of the heat."

Police say the two fires are suspicious and connected.  Officers found a gas can near the fires that is believed to have been used for the crime.

Police say witnesses believe they saw suspects.

"We're looking at juveniles for this," says Corporal Niess.  "So when you have to start dealing with juveniles, it takes a little longer.  You have to have the juvenile office involved and things like that."

Police say when juvenile suspects are questioned, the suspect's parents or a juvenile case worker must be present.

Corporal Niess doesn't believe the suspects have been charged at this time.

Residents in the neighborhood tell us they are tired of being fearful.

Reported July 11, 2012:  Joplin authorities are investigating whether two garage fires are related.

The first fire occurred at 531 North Moffett in Joplin a little after 4:30 Tuesday afternoon.

Fire crews responded and found heavy smoke and flames coming from an unattached garage.

The garage suffered extensive damage but crews saved the family vehicle undamaged.

There were no injuries from the fire.

"It makes you feel helpless but also knowing there are people, there have been a lot of people that have offered to help and to recover but it's awesome to see the response of the fire department and the police department," says home owner Dave Ferguson.

Forty minutes later fire crews responded to another garage fire about two blocks away, at 707 North Sergeant Street.

Crews again found heavy smoke and flames coming from an unattached garage.

There were also no injuries and the garage suffered extensive damage.

Authorities are investigating both fires to determine if they are connected.

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