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Police searching for suspected arsonist after 7+ fires sparked across Desert Hot Springs

A suspected arsonist is on the run from police in Desert Hot Springs after more than seven fires were ignited in the city early Tuesday morning.

Martin Valencia woke up to firefighters at his door. "I heard my daughter screaming," he said. "The smoke started going in through that window. And all the house was full of smoke."

The fire at Valencia's home ignited in the lot behind the house on Granada Avenue, where he said a homeless camp was built.

"I think they get in drugs they were fighting, arguing every time," Valencia said. "My little daughters, they're sleeping on that corner of the house. So they used to wake up in the nights telling me they heard somebody on the back of the house."

Fire crews said the first call came in around 1:30 a.m.

"So far right now we have five dumpsters, two structure fires, and some vegetation fires throughout the city," said Batallion Chief Tim Voigt with Desert Hot Springs Fire Department.

A second fire sparked about a half mile away, on Pierson Boulevard.

Stephanie Simmons walks by the group that lived there every day.

"It's kind of a shock in that that'd be fires all around the place, just to happen at the same time. It definitely sounds like a fire starter," Simmons said.

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Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.

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