Update 10:20 p.m.
A 34-year-old Fairfield man described by police as a “serial arsonist” has confessed to setting the Thursday that resulted in the hospitalization of two firefighters, officials said.
Christopher Message, 34, of Valley Road, was taken into custody and charged with three counts of first-degree arson, as well as one count of first-degree burglary, according to Chief Gary MacNamara.
With tips from residents and evidence collected by firefighters and other emergency responders, police were able to identify Message as the arsonist of those fires and suspect him of additional arsons in Fairfield and other towns, MacNamara said during a press briefing Thursday night at police headquarters.
“He is a suspect and we do believe he may be responsible for other fires that occurred in other jurisdictions and we are working with other jurisdictions to see whether we can link him to those arson fires,” MacNamara said, flanked by Richard Felner, fire officials and members of the police department’s detective bureau. “He is a suspect in several other municipalities, and we are working with them right now.”
One Fairfield firefighter in a Cornell Road blaze, while a second firefighter went to the hospital for an injury caused by a hose coupling while battling a fire at Woodridge Avenue. A third fire had occurred on North Benson Road.
According to Felner, the firefighter injured on Woodridge Avenue has been released from the hospital, while the one who sustained burns remains at Bridgeport Hospital.
“He’s doing fine,” Felner said. “He’s in pain and had some serious burns, so they’re keeping him. We don’t know when he’ll be released.”
It isn’t clear whether Message has a criminal record or what motivated him to set the fires, MacNamara said.
“Our investigation continues,” he said.
“Clearly, this individual had his reason and his motives, we’re still sorting through some of that,” he continued.
MacNamara credited firefighters and emergency responders already working hard in the wake of tropical storm Irene.
According to MacNamara, Message is a suspect in other Fairfield fires, including a blaze that .
“It’s not that the fires just occurred 18 hours ago, because what we realized was that three fires that had occurred a few days earlier were now linked to these that occurred last night,” he said.
News of the arrest caps a day of widespread speculation about whether the Thursday morning fires were in fact arson.
“We’ve got an individual lighting houses on fire, and they’re vacant houses but lighting residences on fire, causing a very dangerous situation,” MacNamara said. “And we at that point indicated that we’re going to deploy all the resources necessary to solve that and put the individual responsible in custody and again, I’m happy to say that tonight the individual responsible for the three fires last night—as well as the three fires that occurred several nights ago—is now in police custody. And we’re very happy to say that we will not have any arson fires committed by this individual again in the town of Fairfield and I’m extremely happy to say that.”
Message’s bond has not yet been set, MacNamara said.
Fairfield police say they have arrested Christopher Message, 34, of Valley Road in Fairfield, for the early-morning arsons. He also is suspected in arsons from last weekend.
He faces charges of three counts of first-degree arson, and one count of first-degree burglary, according to Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara.
"We want to make sure that the community knows that the person responsible for last night's havoc ... has been arrested," MacNamara said during a press briefing moments ago at police headquarters.
The comments come on the heels of three pre-dawn fires Thursday that took place in different sections of town, all within 90 minutes.
Patch will update this article as more information becomes available.