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Arson arrest made in garage fires

FARGO - A 23-year-old man is accused of setting fire to two neighboring garages early Wednesday in south Fargo.

Officers arrested Michael Lee Duray of Fargo on suspicion of felony arson, Fargo Police Chief Keith Ternes said.

Crews responded to a call at 3:35 a.m. Wednesday of a fire in a detached garage at 411 8th Ave. S. The fire was extinguished by 3:48 a.m., police said in a news release.

While investigating the area, Fargo police noticed a second fire in a detached garage at 422 7th Ave. S., which was close to the first garage. That fire was put out at 4:04 a.m.

Assistant Fire Chief Larry Schuh said the timing and proximity of the fires were suspicious, and police found footprints leading from the scene.

The response of three engines, a ladder truck and a rescue truck comprised about half of Fargo's firefighting force working at the time, Schuh said.

"We're pulling trucks out of areas, getting farther away from where we could be needed to respond to flood-related stuff," he said.

The commotion stirred residents in the Hawthorne neighborhood. One woman walked out onto her front porch and asked a firefighter, "What's going on? Are we getting evacuated?"

Schuh said there was a car in the garage at 411 8th Ave. S. and a boat in the Seventh Avenue garage, which sustained moderate fire damage and heavy smoke damage.

Cass County has been moving felony-level arrests to Grand Forks and Stutsman counties since the Cass County Jail was evacuated as a precaution because of the flood threat.

Officials hope to start moving inmates back into the Cass County jail on Friday, Chief Deputy Jim Thoreson said.