Suspect Arrested For Suspicious Fire On East Bay Trail

PLEASANT HILL (CBS SF) – Authorities reported Wednesday that a suspect has been arrested in connection with a suspicious fire that broke out on a Contra Costa County walking trail Tuesday evening.

Fire crews responded to the latest possible case of arson along the Iron Horse Regional Trail after a resident reported the small vegetation fire at about 9:30 p.m.

The fire happened on the East Bay Municipal Utility District Trail near Oak Park Boulevard in Pleasant Hill, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Capt. George Laing said.

It was extinguished by about 10 p.m. and resulted in no injuries or damage to homes or other structures.

Shortly before 4 p.m. Wednesday, the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Twitter account posted that 48-year-old suspect Mark Smith, a transient most recently seen in Pleasant Hill, had been arrested in connection with the Tuesday night fire.

Authorities said there have been more than 20 suspicious fires in the area that have been reported since early summer, mainly along the Iron Horse Regional Trail in Pleasant Hill and Concord.

The fires have all started along the trails in vegetation, often near wooden fences and private homes. They are considered suspicious because of their locations, the time of day at which they started and other factors, Laing said.

“The fire last night occurred in proximity to other fires starting earlier this summer going all the way up until recent weeks and days,” Laing said Wednesday.

Authorities weren’t saying if Smith is suspected of started the other fires as well.

“Our fire investigations unit and police department are interviewing the suspect in connection with other fires in the area,” said Laing.

Wednesday, people walking and biking along the trail said they were surprised to learn a possible arsonist is targeting their community.

“I have never seen transients on the trail. It’s usually students or people who live in the community,” said area resident Dayna Baskerville.

Additional details are not being released because the investigation is still active, Laing said.

TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.


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