Contra Costa County

Police Investigating Series of Arson Fires in Contra Costa County

A series of arson fires in Contra Costa County has prompted police to issue a warning.

Police say about a half dozen small fires have been deliberately set in Richmond and El Cerrito this week, including one that left a woman with severe burns.

El Cerrito police said someone set a parked car on fire early Wednesday with a woman inside. The woman suffered serious burns before she managed to escape, police said.

"She was able to break a window and run to Starbucks to get help," El Cerrito Police Lt. Lauren Caputo said.

Police said the car fire is one of a slew of arson fires that have taken place in the area in the last few days. They say someone set four different fires on San Pablo Avenue on Wednesday morning alone.

El Cerrito Fire Marshall Dave Gibson said they are teaming with Richmond investigators to get to the bottom of it. As temperatures climb, Gibson said it doesn't take much for a small fire to take off.

"These fires are deadly and we can't let a fire get loose in any part of our community," Gibson said.

On Thursday, police released a photo of a person of interest in the car fire. They hope to identify and question him.

People who live in the area said they need whoever is setting the fires to stop.

"There's sick people out there and somebody stops him before he does it again," Richmond-resident Stephen London said.

are now urging people to be aware of what is going on around them. 

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