TULSA - Two fires set, just three miles and three days apart. Now, police are one step closer to arresting a suspect.
Fire marshals requested a search warrant for the man they believe is the suspect. Officials were able to connect the two fires because of where they started and what items were stolen.
Just after 2 p.m. Friday, a man and woman walked into Ace Hardware at 91st and Memorial. They walked to aisle 4 when an associate asked if they needed help. General Manager of Ace, Gary Sanders said they were "looking through our drain cleaners. Looking for a product like called Lye which is an old fashioned drain opener."
Lye is the strongest drain cleaner on the market, also commonly used to make meth. Sanders said, "I've actually removed it off of my shelves which most of our stores here in town have."
While the woman continued to shop, the man went to the bathroom. Surveillance video shows the man entering the bathroom, where Sanders says he started a fire. He said, "We have a plunger that's back in this area. They actually used that to try and push whatever they caught on fire, back into the wall further."
Bixby Fire Marshall Joey Wiedel saw the surveillance photos on a 2News broadcast and thought it could be connected to one of his cases. Three days earlier, his firefighters were at Atkins Natural Foods, where a bathroom was set on fire and flooded.
When Sanders evacuated Ace, he said the two stole drain cleaner and possibly more. "They used to come in and they would buy the stuff. That wasn't good enough so they steal the stuff. That's not good enough. Now they're coming in setting fires to divert to try and get the stuff," said Sanders.
The man has previous charges of possession of a controlled substance and theft. The damages at both stores total about $5,000.
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