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Arson unit investigating series of small brush fires in North County

The sheriff’s arson unit is investigating a series of small fires that erupted Thursday in Vista and Oceanside, including at least two incidents in which a man was reportedly seen starting the blazes, authorities said Friday.

The first fire was reported just before 1 p.m. Thursday near La Tortuga Drive and Hacienda Drive, just south of state Route 78, according to Sgt. Anthony Portillo from the sheriff’s bomb/arson unit. Vista firefighters and deputies responded, and the fire crews quickly extinguished the flames.

About three hours later, just before 4 p.m., a second fire was reported at the same location, Portillo said in a news release. Deputies and firefighters again responded and knocked down the blaze.

During the second call in the late afternoon, witnesses reported seeing a man starting several fires in that area, Portillo said.

About four hours later and two miles away, Oceanside police responded to a report of a man trying to start a fire, Portillo said.

It was unknown Friday if it was the same man involved in both incidents, but the bomb/arson unit asked anyone with information about any of the fires to call the Sheriff’s Department’s non-emergency line at (858) 565-5200. Tipsters can also call San Diego County Crime Stoppers’ anonymous tip line at (888) 580-8477.

Crime Stoppers is offering up to a $1,000 reward to anyone who provides information leading to an arrest in the case.

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