Arrest Made in Connection With String of Contra Costa County Car Fires

A 36-year-old suspect faces 43 different arson charges for his alleged role in a series of suspicious vehicle fires reported recently in Contra Costa County, officials said Saturday.

This past week, seven cars parked across Contra Costa County went up in flames under the cover of darkness. Fire officials on Friday said those blazes were all related.

"There have been commonalities between all of the fires that we know of that the suspect is currently being charged with," Contra Costa County Fire Marshal Robert Marshall said. "There were common threads."

Fire investigators in the East Bay say a recent string of car fires are related. Thom Jensen reports.

The arson suspect, who has yet to be identified but is from Contra Costa County, set fire to another car along the 400 block of West Seaview Drive in Benicia early Saturday when he was spotted by authorities, according to Marshall and the Benicia Police Department. The man was promptly stopped and taken into custody without incident.

"We're confident that he is responsible for the charges that we are bringing against him," Marshall said.

Concord police were keeping tabs on the suspect Friday night before investigators eventually came into contact with the man in Benicia, according to the Benicia Police Department.

The latest in a rash of car fires that has East Bay residents on edge were reported early Friday morning — one in Walnut Creek and the other in Lafayette. Investigators confirmed Friday that the two overnight fires are related to five others that have been reported this week — two in Brentwood and one each in Walnut Creek, Lafayette and Martinez.

Two more car fires in Contra Costa County Friday morning add to the growing number of suspicious blazes in the region. Rick Boone reports.

Marshall was not able to provide many specific details regarding the suspect, but he was thankful that an arrest was made.

"Obviously we're relieved," he said. "We're hoping that the fires will stop."

It is not clear if the suspect was working alone, and authorities could not disclose if he has a previous criminal record, Marshall said. The suspect's bail has been set at over $3.1 million.

Despite the arrest, Marshall warned East Bay residents to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity. He also encouraged them to make sure their front yards are well lit.

Anyone with information regarding the fires is encouraged to contact 1-866-50-ARSON.

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