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Caught on camera: Man suspected in 11 dumpster fires

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BRIGHTON, Colo. (KDVR) — Arvada Police are hoping to catch the person they believe responsible for setting at least 11 dumpster fires near businesses and apartment complexes, all within the last month.

In the communities beneath the Olde Town water tower, just feet from where families lay their heads at night, residents like Caitlyn Mix recently noticed some damage on their dumpsters.

“My apartment is like, right outside the trash can,” Mix said, adding, “I noticed that on the inside it was all black and the lid was melted. And I was like, well, obviously there was a fire here, but like, I didn’t hear anything happen.”

The Arvada Police Department shared footage of the suspect. It shows a man moving around and waving at first, then going through bins with a flashlight before flames ignite in the dumpsters.

“There’s something not right with somebody who’s just setting a dumpster on fire,” Arvada Police Det. David Snelling said. “And if you look at his actions at the beginning of the video, we’re not sure what’s going on, if he’s dancing or what it is. But whatever kind of help or things that we can do for this guy, we’d like to get that taken care of and prevent any future huge damage.”

Surveillance image showing a man with a cart in front of a dumpster
Arvada Police are hoping to catch the person they believe responsible for setting at least 11 dumpster fires near businesses and apartment complexes, all within the last month. (Arvada Police Department)

Footage captures firefighters rushing to contain the flames.

Late-night fires spark worry of spread

“Although we have a fantastic fire department, you know, it only takes a minute,” Snelling said. “Once that catches fire, if there’s a breeze or even a wind, especially starting this time of year, who knows where it could take that before the fire department gets there.”

Detectives tracked the pattern of these dumpster fires, saying they are happening around 11 p.m to 3 a.m.

The dumpsters have been located behind and around businesses, and more recently, near apartment buildings.

“If it occurs at an apartment building, it’s late at night — is 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. — these buildings are full,” Snelling said. “We hate for a building to catch on fire just based on a dumpster fire. Incredibly dangerous and actually very scary.”

Anyone with information on the suspect’s identity is asked to contact Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at (720) 913-7867 (STOP).

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