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Man arrested in Home Depot arson
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A man who worked at the Ceres Home Depot store in January was arrested and charged with setting fires that caused over $100,000 damage to merchandise.

Brian Willie Gault, 25, was arrested last week on four counts of arson relating to Home Depot fires in January. The arrest came after a lengthy investigation and the results of processed physical evidence. Detective Tonya Smith obtained Gault's arrest warrant and made the arrest.

The four separate arson fires were contained and extinguished by fire personnel and the store sprinkler system before any permanent damage occurred. However several thousand dollars in loss to the store were incurred due to water damage to merchandise and loss of income due to the store closure for clean up.

The first fire broke out at 9:54 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 9 in the pool chemical area of the outdoor garden section at the west end of the store. Firefighters spent about 16 minutes putting water on the fire, said Fire Chief Brian Hunt.

"Flames melted the plastic containers that the chlorine tablets were in and melted pool hose," said Hunt.

The second fire broke out at 4:40 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 11, in the back of the store where appliances and cabinetry are stored. Overhead sprinklers were triggered to help douse the flames but damaged both products and product packaging.

According to detective Sgt. James Robbins, officers seized a home computer belonging to Gault. The computer was seized because police saw that someone posted an ad on the "Rants & Raves" section of the Modesto website making reference to the fire. When another person posted a response to the ad suggesting that the person could be traced through his internet IP number, the ad was taken down, said Robbins.

Both fires occurred in surveillance camera dead spots, giving police an idea that the fires were done by an insider.