By Rick Sallinger

LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – A man is in police custody after being arrested Sunday night on multiple charges of arson and animal cruelty.

Earnest Maynes, 37, is accused of burning down a barn near 3rd Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard in Lakewood that killed seven horses and a dog. That fire and numerous other suspicious fires nearby happened on April 28.

(credit: Lakewood Police)

CBS4 investigator Rick Sallinger showed a picture of Maynes to Jose Miranda, who lost two of those horses. He said he did not recognize the suspect.

“I feel bad, you know,” Miranda said. “I love my animals I have had them for a long time.”

The horses were used for riding and rodeos.

Just after the fires, CBS4 photojournalist Rob McClure interviewed neighbor Angel Tyree. She said she believed her brother-in-law was responsible.

“I asked him what he was doing — saying something about fire, he was going to burn stuff down,” she said.

(credit: West Metro Fire Rescue)

Some eight fires were found started in a two block area. All were reported suspicious.

Tyree said she gave information about Maynes, including his appearance, to the fire department. Now Maynes is in custody.

The arrest was welcomed by neighbors who condemned the alleged actions.

“Burning dumpsters and an empty restaurant is one thing, but burning up horses that are defenseless is just cruel,” Brenda Strong told CBS4.

Miranda he would most likely agree. When asked if he knew of a possible motive, he replied no.

The barns were destroyed, almost all the animals are gone. With a suspect in custody the next question is why someone may have started these fires.

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

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