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Pictured is the aftermath of one of the two vehicle fires that occurred on Monday, Aug. 3, at 406 S. 15th St. According to a police report released by the Artesia Police Department late Tuesday afternoon, the fires are still under investigation. (Courtesy Photo)

Pictured is the aftermath of one of the two vehicle fires that occurred on Monday, Aug. 3, at 406 S. 15th St. According to a police report released by the Artesia Police Department late Tuesday afternoon, the fires are still under investigation. (Courtesy Photo)

ARTESIA – A malicious arson Monday in the 400 block of South 15th Street led to the destruction of two vehicles and significant damage to residence of the owners.

Officers with the Artesia Police Department were dispatched just prior to 6:30 a.m. Monday to a home at 406 S. 15th St. after neighbors awoke to popping sounds and noted smoke emanating from the yard next door.

Upon arrival, officers observed a Jeep Wrangler fully engulfed in flames, which had spread to an adjacent Ford SUV. The flames were reportedly 20 feet high and threatening the residence. The Artesia Fire Department was able to extinguish the blaze before it could reach the home.

Once the scene was secure, investigators were able to determine the cause of the fire: a propane tank removed from a nearby grill had been placed in the backseat of the Jeep and its valve removed. Investigators also noted two battery-operated LED security lights that overlooked the driveway had been removed and were lying on the ground.

In addition to the total loss of the two vehicles, the home sustained damage including the melting of vinyl soffits under the garage eaves, the face of an electric meter, garage door handles, cable and telephone lines, and a portable basketball hoop.

The APD reports the total value of the damage is still pending, with vehicle damage alone totaling approximately $35,000.

Authorities are continuing to investigate the incident, and a relative of the vehicles’ owner is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Anyone with information is asked to contact the APD at 746-5000.