Police investigate back-to-back fires and vehicle thefts

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

COTTONWOOD, Ariz. -- Authorities are investigating two fires and two vehicle burglaries that occurred within minutes and miles of each other early Sunday morning.

Police say they received a call at about 1:48 a.m. of a hearse in the carport burning at Westcott Funeral Home on Mingus Ave. and 11th Street. The fire department was able to save the building with only minimal damage, although the hearse was unsalvageable.

Fire Chief Mike Kuykendall said another vehicle belonging to Westcott was the point of ignition. The carpet on the passenger side had recent burns, but not enough to accelerate throughout the rest of the vehicle.

Just five minutes later, the fire and police departments were notified of a second fire on an apartment patio a block west of the funeral parlor fire. The owner said his dogs alerted him of the blaze, and doused it himself with a trash can filled with water.

Only a chair was destroyed by the fire, with no injuries or structural damage.

There was a call for two vehicle thefts shortly after the fires were extinguished in a parking lot by the apartment. One car was missing some CD's. Police say both vehicles were unlocked.

Authorities say further developments will be released when they are available.