Arsonist Suspected of Setting 23 Fires in Washington State

PHOTO: A Spokane Valley Fire Department firefighters responds to a fire on South Campbell Road in Spokane Valley, Wash., Sept. 25, 2014.PlaySpokane Valley Fire Department
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Fire officials in Washington state suspect an arsonist is responsible for igniting 23 fires in less than two weeks, including one that burned through about ten acres and terrified residents in the Spokane area.

"A typical serial arsonist, they kind of go in and out but they're never going to stop," Greg Godfrey, an assistant chief of Spokane County Fire District #8, told ABC News today. "They're going to continue to light fires because they're getting some satisfaction out of this, some kind of power trip."

Most of the blazes have been small brush fires, but the first, the Saltese Lake Fire on Sept. 18, threatened several homes.

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"Fire burned up all the way to their property," Godfrey said. "One burned up to the grass right outside the occupant's bedroom window."

Two of the fires were set in vacant model homes. There are typically two fires a day, Godfrey added, and they tend to be in the same general parts of the county, which is why authorities suspect an arsonist.

Officials have asked the public to be vigilant, report any suspicious persons and keep an eye on their security cameras. The Northwest is in the midst of a dangerous wildfire season.

The hunt for an arsonist is a personal mission for Godfrey, who worked in California when a fellow firefighter was convicted of setting about 2,000 fires in the Los Angeles area in the 1980s and 1990s. John Orr, who was a captain and arson investigator at the Glendale Fire Department, is now serving life in prison.

"He's considered to be the most prolific arsonist in the history of the United States," Godfrey said.

"For me, this is personal for a couple of reasons. One is that when I worked with John Orr, I was betrayed by someone I trusted. Secondly, I know the dangers of fire and what it can do, and I know what a serious arsonist can do."

One of the fires Orr ignited in California killed four people.

"I want to stop this one before that happens," Godfrey said.

Spokane residents are also on edge.

"What concerns me the most is a pyromaniac starting fires," homeowner John Zing told The Associated Press.

"We're blessed that nobody has been injured yet, but that's just a matter of time," another resident, Carolyn Staples, told ABC News affiliate KXLY.