Phoenix man accused of setting 3 fires in June

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James Vernell Zanes By Jennifer Thomas James Vernell Zanes By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- A 19-year-old Phoenix man is accused of setting several fires in June, causing more than $250,000 in damage.

James Vernell Zanes was arrested Sunday after Phoenix police said he broke into a 99 Cents Only Store near Northern Avenue and 12th Street and set three small fires.

Surveillance footage showed Zanes throwing a sledgehammer through the glass front doors of the discount store at about 2:20 a.m., according to court documents. He then crawled through the broken glass and into the store.

According to a police report, Zanes set two small fires in the store then put a large amount of utility and handheld lighters into a bag. He left through the back door and set fire to some cardboard that was stored behind the building.

A witness called police to report the break-in and officers arrested Zanes at the scene. The sledgehammer was found inside the bag, according to court records.

The Phoenix Fire Department responded to extinguish the fire.

After being arrested, Zanes reportedly admitted to setting the fires at the store, which caused approximately $2,000. Records show that he also told investigators that he lit a vehicle on fire near Cave Creek and Mountain View roads about two hours earlier. The damage to the vehicle was approximately $4,000.

Zanes also admitted to igniting a fire at an apartment complex under renovation near Glendale Avenue and Seventh Street on June 1. The damage to the apartment complex construction office and four units was approximately $250,000.

Zanes faces eight charges including arson, burglary and theft.