Just what the Chico Fire Department needs one day after announcing drastic budget cuts, an increase in arson fires in the downtown area. Pranksters are setting fire to couches, mattresses and dumpsters. Fire Inspector Marie Fickert says arson is increasing and it all began right after the fourth of July weekend. Since then there have been 17 furniture fires.
Investigators have created a map to keep track of the target spots. The fires seem to be taking place on Hazel and Chestnut with in West Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Streets. It all stems from illegal dumping. Late-night pranksters are setting fire to the junk abandoned by others.
If caught dumping illegally in the city it will be a thousand dollar fine along with 30-days in jail. Fire department officials say if you see anyone dumping furniture illegally, or setting fire to abandoned junk call 911 immediately.