Former arsonist questioned in fire spree

January 13, 2009 5:12:32 PM PST
Investigators say a serial arsonist has set more than two dozen fires in the Gulfton area of southwest Houston since May. Residents fear the fires could turn deadly.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

Eyewitness News has learned officials are questioning a person of interest in the case. Officially, he's considered a person of interest. John Leonard Morin, 45, is in custody and is being questioned by Houston Fire Department arson officials. Authorities want to know if Morin has any connection to 28 arson fires in the Gulfton area over the past year. While not charged with any of those crimes, Morin has a past criminal history for arson. However, fire officials will not comment if Morin is connected to the recent arson fires.

"At this time it's still an open investigation and we have not completed that investigation," said HFD Chief Omero Longoria. "Until we do that were just not able to say."

On Tuesday, firefighters canvassed the Spring Forest apartments making sure neighbors have batteries and working smoke detectors . The Spring Forest apartments have been hard hit. In two months, from October to November of last year, five fires were reported. All of them are considered intentionally set. There is another eerie connection. Many of the fire happened early on Friday mornings.

"I've literally had nightmares because of it," said resident Elsa Ramirez. "Every Thursday night we're just like, 'I know it's going to happen.' I just know and I hear the sirens and I go to outside thinking it's us and it's somewhere else close by. It's very traumatic."

The Houston Fire Department is not saying much about what led them to Morin. We do know that he has served prison time before for deliberately setting fires in the Houston area in the mid 1990s.

No arrest warrant has been issued and no charges have been filed at this time.

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