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Irvine woman arrested in string of arson fires

Janaspires Irvine police have arrested a woman suspected of starting a series of small fires on residential and school property over the last 10 months.

Detectives took Jana Marie Spires, 39, into custody just after 8 a.m. Saturday near Springbook Elementary School in Irvine. Nearby, a stack of empty pizza boxes had been been set ablaze within inches of a school administration building, spokeswoman Lt. Julie Engen said.

Police began looking for a serial arsonist last July after noticing a pattern of fires set in trash, trash cans, vehicles and one inside a residential garage. One car was a total loss but other damage was not as severe, Engen said.

DNA collected from three of the fires identified the arsonist as female. Using crime date and the DNA profile, strategic surveillance of potential sites was set up, Engen said.

Police put out the pizza-box fire before it caused damage to the school property.

Female fire-setters are somewhat rare. A 1989 Canadian study found that just 10% to 18% of arson fires are set by women.


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-- Catherine Saillant

Photo: Jana Spires. Credit: Irvine Police Department



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