General Crime

* Gerald Charles a Petaluma man arrested for arson allegedly setting fire to his own apartment on Baywood Drive

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A man was arrested for arson on Thursday after allegedly setting fire to his own apartment in Petaluma, causing a fire that left several residents displaced, police and fire officials said. Police and firefighters responded to reports of a fire and explosion in an apartment at 1120 Baywood Drive shortly before 7 p.m. Officers and firefighters arriving found heavy flames coming from the first floor of the two-story apartment building.

A man met them outside and told firefighters that the apartment was his and that his brother was still inside. Firefighters rescued residents on the second floor, cut ventilation holes in the building and used hoses to attack the fire, containing it at around 7:20 p.m.No one was found in the burning apartment, and fire officials said the man that greeted firefighters told them that he had doused the inside of the apartment in gasoline and then turned on the stove and left.

Police arrested the man and identified him as Gerald Charles, Jr., 29.Three occupants of that apartment were displaced and lost all of their possessions in the blaze. The occupant of the next-door apartment was also displaced. Charles was booked into Sonoma County Jail with his bail set at $60,000. Police have not determined a motive for setting the fire.

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