HOUSTON – Rauch went before a probable cause judge Saturday night in connection with an arson outbreak in the Houston area.
Officials said Joshua A. Rauch, 28, was charged with second-degree felony arson. He is accused of setting at least seven fires across the Houston area, including several still under investigation. He also faces additional and upgraded charges.
Investigators said Rauch and his vehicle, which is described as a silver Ford Focus, were seen in surveillance video at the scene of a fire near West 34 Street and Ella Boulevard. Then evidence also tied Rauch to a fire at the University of Houston-Downtown.
Arson investigators identified Rauch as a suspect and then obtained search warrants for cell phone information and to place a tracker on his vehicle, which led to his arrest. Rauch is accused of setting cars, trash and sheds on fire and is being questioned by arson investigators.
Rauch’s charges can be upgraded to first-degree if any of the fires include a habitation or place of worship, HFD Deputy Chief Investigator Alison Stein said.
Investigators say Rauch’s motives remain unclear.
No injuries have been reported in connection to the fires. The estimated property damage is still under investigation.
His bond was set $50,000.
Burnt cars in the Heights
KPRC 2 found several burned cars in the Greater Houston Heights area on Saturday. There was one at Bevis and 22nd Street, and another one at the intersection of Beall and 15th 1/2 Street.
Wes Clanton woke up to his friend’s car burned in front of his garage.
“I guess just why I think is the biggest like why would you do this to someone,” he said.
The incident happened at the intersection of 9th and Nicholson streets early Saturday morning.
“I woke up because the fire department was knocking on the door," Clanton said.
Morgan Buck and his wife Lindsay captured the intense fire on their phone.
“It was crazy. I was worried about his house because it was really close to his house," Morgan said.
The Houston Fire Department says there’s been a string of fires around the Heights in the last week.
It’s unclear if Rauch is connected to the car fires, but people say they’re glad he is off the streets.
“I think everyone was concerned about it so glad to hear the news," Daniel Fuchs said.