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Series Of Fires Near Walnut Creek Park Prompts Arson Investigation

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(CBS)

(CBS)

WALNUT CREEK (CBS SF) — Police and fire investigators are attempting to locate a suspect who started a series of fires near Arbolado Park in Walnut Creek after a fourth arson fire was set there Thursday night.

Crews responded around 7:30 p.m. to reports of a fire on the edge of the park on Arbolado Drive, according to fire Investigator Vic Massenkoff of the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District.

When fire personnel arrived on scene, Massenkoff said, he was surprised to find that the blaze was burning in the exact same spot where an arson fire was set in September of 2012.

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He and a fire captain who had also responded to the 2012 fire “looked at each other like, ‘Oh my God,’” Massenkoff said Friday.

But unlike the 2012 blaze, fire crews were quickly able to contain the fire due to a lack of wind, he said.

About a quarter acre of dry grass burned but no structures or vehicles were damaged.

The suspicious blaze comes after three arson fires in the park over the past week – one last Saturday, another on Monday and a third blaze on Wednesday. All were reported between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., according to Massenkoff.

Fire investigators are also looking into an arson fire that broke out less than a mile from the park on Trails End Drive around 2:30 p.m. May 6, he said.

Crews were able to quickly contain each of the fires and prevent them from burning more than about a quarter acre each time, the fire investigator said.

Massenkoff believes the same person or people are behind not only the latest series of fires but also the blaze set in Arbolado Park in 2012.

“The likelihood of this being a coincidence is very low,” he said.

Fire and police officials are asking residents in the area to be on alert for any suspicious activity that may be related to the fires.

“They are our eyes and ears out here,” Massenkoff said.

Anyone with information or an anonymous tip is asked to call Walnut Creek police at (925) 943-5844 or the Contra Costa Fire Protection District’s arson hotline at 1-866-50-ARSON.

© Copyright 2014 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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