General Crime

Suspected Serial Arsonist, Marcos Gonzales, Arrested After String Of Fires

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A suspected serial arsonist has been arrested in connection with seven suspicious fires in El Cerrito over the past week, police said today.

Officers arrested 36-year-old El Cerrito resident Marcos Gonzales Tuesday with the help of a California Highway Patrol helicopter after he was spotted running into some brush on Moeser Lane in the Hillside Natural Area, according to police.

Police said Gonzalez allegedly set a series of fires from last Friday to Tuesday morning, all in or near the Hillside Natural Area.

The first fire was reported around 10:20 p.m. last Friday and burned grass on the north side of Moeser Lane, according to police.

Police said several citizens informed police about a man holding a lighter and yelling at passing pedestrians and motorists. He had fled the scene by the time authorities arrived and the blaze was quickly extinguished.

In the two days that followed, two more vegetation fires were reported in the same area.

In addition, there were a fire on Monday that destroyed a home’s carport and displaced two residents in the 900 block of Seaview Drive and another on Tuesday in the 900 block of Shevlin Drive that was quickly put out, according to police.

No one was injured in any of the fires.

Working with the El Cerrito Fire Department, police identified Gonzales as the suspect.

After his arrest he was transferred to county jail in Martinez where he remained in lieu of $525,000 bail.

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