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Detroit — A man suspected of being a serial arsonist has been taken into custody, Detroit police and fire officials said Thursday.

Marzein Porter, 40, of Detroit, was arrested early Monday morning by police and investigators with the city's Arson Task Force, they said. Police said he was caught in the act of setting a fire.

"Here we've got a person we're calling a serial arsonist," said Detroit Police Chief James Craig. "The investigation is continuing, but we believe we have the right suspect."

Craig made the remarks at a news conference held at the city's Public Safety Headquarters on Third Street near downtown Detroit. He was joined by Detroit Executive Fire Commissioner Eric Jones and task force members.

"This is not a victory lap, but at least we got this dangerous offender off the street," Jones said. "We know we still have a problem with arsonists. There are others out there and we're still investigating."

Both Craig and Jones credit the work of the task force and tips from the community for the suspect's arrest.

Officials said Porter is accused of starting at least 25 fires over the past two months in the area west of Gratiot Avenue between Seven Mile and Eight Mile on the city's east side.

Jones said the suspect's targets were a mixture of vacant and occupied buildings.

He also said the suspect lives in the center of the area where the fires were set.

Craig said Porter was formally charged Thursday with six counts of arson — three second-degree charges and three third-degree charges. Second-degree arson is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

He also said Porter is being held on a $50,000 bond.

Craig said Porter has no previous record of arson.

Officials said they continue to investigate the arsons and it's possible they will file more charges against Porter.

cramirez@detroitnews.com

 

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