SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) — A 51-year-old homeless man has been arrested in a series of arson fires set along the Santa Rosa Creek Trail and the West County Trail in Graton, authorities announced Tuesday.
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department said Domingo Bautista-Bautista was being held on $201,000 bail in county jail on two counts of felony arson and violation of probation.
Investigators said a witness was able to identify Bautista-Bautista from a photo lineup. But while he was being held in the creek arson fires, investigators said they do not believe he is responsible for any other fires in the county.
Santa Rosa police Sgt. Marcus Sprague said it was important to quickly apprehend a suspect in the case.
“All of us lived through the events in October (the deadly wildfires) 2017 and none of us will forget that day as long as we live,” he said.
Sheriff’s deputies began investigating four small fires along the West County Trail near Occidental Road on June 14th. As the lead fire agency, Graton Fire Department requested the Sheriff’s Office assistance because the fires were suspicious. Deputies interviewed two witnesses who saw a suspicious person on the trail around the time the fires started.
On June 16, 2018 at approximately 11:55 p.m., Santa Rosa Police officers and firefighters responded to the Santa Rosa Creek Trail near Dutton Avenue. Santa Rosa Fire Department extinguished 13 small fires along the trail. Investigators from both departments determined the fires were intentionally set.
Deputies heard of the similarly suspicious fires and contacted Santa Rosa Police detectives.
Investigators from both agencies worked together to analyze the evidence and follow up on information from the witnesses. They determined the same person had likely started the fires in both cases.
Anyone with additional information on the West County Trail case should call Sheriff’s Office Investigations at 707-565-2185.
Anyone with additional information on the Santa Rosa Creek Trail case should call the Santa Rosa Police Department Property Crimes Unit at 707-543-3575.
A reward up to $5,000 is being offered by the Sonoma County Alliance “Take Back Our Community Program” for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect(s) involved in these cases.