Two thrift stores in downtown Ventura have been targeted in a string of arson fires during the last month.

At the Arc Foundation thrift store, five separate fires were set to clothes on four separate days — the first at 1 p.m. on June 17, the second and third at 11:35 a.m. and 1:35 p.m. on July 19, the fourth at 10:42 a.m. on July 20, and the fifth at 4 p.m. on July 21. And one month ago, a clothing rack outside the Treasure Chest store was also set ablaze, causing around $500 worth of damage.

Battalion Chief Vern Alstot said that the fires at the Arc Foundation were unusual, especially since one of the fires was set while the fire department was on the scene.

“The thought process of what someone is trying to accomplish is not the norm,” Alstot said. “They are atypical of most fires we have.”

Alstot also opined that these fires, even though very little damage was done during any of the Arc’s incidents, were being taken very seriously by the fire department.

“If we were to have a structure fire in downtown, it would be more than just this merchant,” he said.

The workers and a manager at the Arc Foundation would not comment.

Alstot said that an investigation was currently under way but would not indicate if any suspects were in custody.

As for the Treasure Chest, manager Carol Brooks thinks she may know who set the fire at her store and isn’t concerned about it happening again.

“We think it was a disgruntled employee,” Brooks said. “Or maybe a pyromaniac.”

She knows better than to leave any more racks of clothes on the street until, perhaps, the perpetrator is caught.

She did not comment on whether she felt the fires at her store and the Arc Foundation were linked.

Irene, the manager of the Child Abuse and Neglect thrift store, said she is prepared if anyone should try to set a fire in her store.

“All we are doing is just watching,” she said.    

If anyone has any information regarding the fires, please call (805) 339-4400.

michael@vcreporter.com