FRESNO (FOX26News)  — Since the middle of January, the Fresno Ararat Armenian Cemetery has been targeted by an arsonist.

Six total incidents have burned 19 old-growth trees. Friday night 8 trees were torched along the beautiful main entrance.

Both Fresno Police and Fire have been called out to the Belmont and Hughes property, but no arrests have been made.

“As you can imagine, this is horribly upsetting to my Board of Directors, the Armenian community, and my staff and me. We are the only Armenian cemetery outside Armenia and the Middle East; our mission is to serve Armenian families with compassion in their time of need, while also keeping alive the memory of all who are buried here. The Board, my staff, and I take this mission very seriously. It would be impossible to overstate how upsetting this is to us.” Said Sheri Manning-Cartwright, Executive Director/Administrator of Ararat Armenian Cemetery and Masis Ararat Armenian Cemetery.

The fires have been in the oldest part of the cemetery which was founded in 1885. There are gates and an archway that clearly identify the property as Armenian. This is concerning with the upcoming Armenian Genocide Commemoration Day April 24th, that this could be a hate crime.

The estimate to remove and replace the trees is approximately $25,000. The board of directors is not sure if insurance will cover the cost.

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