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Woman arrested after suspected arson fire in Los Banos

glieb@losbanosenterprise.com

A 57-year-old Los Banos woman was arrested Sunday after authorities said she torched a field behind Valley Community School, possibly endangering about a dozen rows of solar panels.

No injuries were reported.

The woman, later identified by authorities as Rita Nieto, was spotted running from the field behind the school as flames broke out, according to Los Banos Police Sgt. Jesus Parras.

Nieta was tracked down a short time later and admitted setting the fire, Parras said. Authorities did not comment on a possible motive for setting the fire.

Police said it wasn’t immediately clear whether any of the solar panels behind the school were damaged Sunday.

She was booked into the Merced County jail on suspicion of arson, a felony. Bail was set at $50,000.

About two hours later, firefighters rushed to a home in the 2400 block of South Creekside Drive for a report of a backyard fire. A nearby neighbor was scooping water from a swimming pool and dousing the burning fence.

The cause of the fence fire remained unclear Sunday evening.

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