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South St. Louis residents relieved arrest made in arson fires

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ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – An accused St. Louis serial arsonist has been caught.

FOX 2 has learned he’s the son of a retired St. Louis firefighter.

He'd been terrorizing the neighborhood near Hampton and Nagel for the past month, residents said.

Michael Naro, 47, faces 5 counts, 4 of them for felony arson, for allegedly setting 5 fires, all within a square block of his own home.

The fires were mostly in garages and dumpsters, always overnight, and most often set with road flares, authorities said.

The 5th fire was early last Thursday morning.

Naro nearly caught his neighbor’s house on fire after setting fire to a wood pile in the back yard of the home where Naro lives with his ailing father, a retired St. Louis firefighter, authorities said.

An ATF surveillance camera put in place after the first 3 fires in early January, caught Naro near the scene of the last two fires, shortly before the flames erupted, court documents said.

News of the arrest is a huge relief for neighbors, who’d repeatedly been awakened to the sight and smell of flames and smoke during the past month.

The last fire was just below the room where Brittany Payne’s 4-month-old daughter was sleeping.

“Every single morning when I woke up to feed my daughter I would check to make sure there weren’t fire trucks or cop cars or something outside.  It was a daily thing for about a month,” Payne said.

“I think when you have numerous fires in a small area, city houses are close together, there’s a reason for concern,” said Asst. St. Louis City Circuit Attorney, Mary Pat Carl.  “I don’t think we express relief because it didn’t get big.  I think we express relief because the damage was minimized and we got him before something worse happened.”

“I felt like I would breathe a little easier,” Payne said.  “I felt like I could actually sleep a little bit better knowing that I didn’t have to worry about my daughter or our house or anything along those lines.  It’s been a huge help.”

Naro has past convictions for burglary, theft, reckless burning, and property damage.  He faces up to seven years in prison on each of the 4 felony counts.

He was being held without bail, Monday