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Three fires start within one hour in Altus

Altus_Fires roared through Altus on Thursday night, destroying a trailer home, a car, and burning two separate pieces of land.  The first blazes began at about 11PM as two grass fires about a block apart on Cherry Street.  About 30 minutes later, authorities say someone set a car on fire on Flamingo Road on the south end of town.  Twenty minutes later, fire destroyed a mobile home on the north end of town.  No one was hurt in the fires, but there is a lot of clean up to do.

Victim Ron Salafia was cleaning up a big mess in his driveway on Friday because of the fires.  "I heard a bang - looked out the window didn't see anything," he said.  "Next thing I know I hear, ‘Bang, bang!'"  He says his neighbor's car was parked right next to his, and the intense fire wasn't going to go out on its own - so, Salafia called 911.

Firefighters arrived on the scene, but not before Salafia's car was destroyed, and part of his neighbor's house damaged.  "Crews arrived there to find the car pretty heavily involved," said Altus Fire Marshal Neil Bonds.  "We're looking into that as far as the investigation finding out what we've got."

Officials say that it appears that some kind of accelerant may have been used to feed the fire, and Salafia says it was very intense.  The lights on the front of the car got so hot that they melted.  "Flames were coming out over the hood and from underneath, and it was like, ‘Oh my God, I don't believe this!'"  He says the inside of the car was not too badly damaged, but the airbags did activate.  "They're saying it started around the tire and trunk area," he said.

Salafia says he still is trying to soak it all in.  As he takes care of his wife's dog, Sophie, while she's in the hospital.  "They had to take yellow tape out," he said.  "My house is a crime scene!  I can't believe this." 

Officials say it is still early in the investigation, and they don't have any concrete proof that any of the fires were related.  They say that at this stage, it's coincidental that the fires all occurred within one hour of each other.  Officials at the scene of the trailer fire say a witness reported seeing suspicious activity.  The witness described the individual a light-skinned male wearing black pants and a black t-shirt, with a white t-shirt underneath.  If you have any information please call Altus Crimestoppers at 580-482-TIPS.

Count on 7News to keep you updated.

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