Beginning last September, a small neighborhood in West San Jose experienced a rash of dumpster fires believed to be the work of a serial arsonist. Authorities in the city had dealt with arson cases before, particularly during the previous summer where a $1,000 reward was offered for information regarding a similar string of fires.

The last reported fire occurred on October 11th around 7:30 pm. Firefighters were at the scene and quickly doused the dumpster. This bumped the number of dumpster fires up to 10 since Sept. 26th, all of them concentrated in this one neighborhood. In response, local police stepped up their patrols in the area along Browning and Bascom avenues. Authorities believed that San Jose’s dumpsters were being set ablaze by the same person due to their concentration in the same neighborhood.

In the months since then, no further information has been uncovered by either the authorities or residents. A large portion of arson cases are carried out by younger individuals, especially these smaller dumpster fires. Some of these pyromaniacs are looking for a thrill, while others crave a little notoriety. Though it may seem like a harmless expression of youthful rebellion, a dumpster fire can easily spread out of control.

Fires that are set inside a dumpster can be contained for a short while. But if there are enough combustible materials inside the waste container, then the blaze can burn out of control and ignite surrounding buildings. This is particularly troublesome for urban areas where buildings are placed closer together and densely populated.

While the suspect may still be at large, this small neighborhood has quieted down since last Fall. There have been no reports of dumpster fires since October, allowing residents to breathe a little easier. After all, its already hard enough to breathe when your trash isn’t on fire.