Employee accused of starting fire at Safeway store

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Eli Rabago By Jennifer Thomas Eli Rabago By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- Phoenix fire investigators arrested a Safeway employee accused of starting a fire at the grocery store where he worked.

On Feb. 16, firefighters were called to the Safeway at Thunderbird Road and 32nd Street. Firefighters put out the fire burning in a storeroom before anyone got hurt, but the store was filled with smoke.

Eli Rabago, 18, is charged with felony arson of an occupied structure.

Investigators said surveillance video showed Rabago was in that area when the fire started.

"It started in an area that has no accidental sources of ignition," said Capt. Adam Dimas with the Phoenix Fire Department. "It was an area where there were no electrical appliances, there were no outlets, nothing of that nature, so in lieu of that the only thing that can cause that fire is manmade."

Dimas said the fire caused more than $100,000 in damage to the store.

Investigators haven't determined a motive yet.

Rabago was released to the custody of his parents. He is under home arrest and wearing an electronic monitor.

His next court hearing is March 8.