Fire investigators were seeking a person or people suspected of setting several fires Sunday night and Monday morning, including one that burned a church in Antioch, officials said. Fire crews also knocked down a fire that started in a garbage can outside a Brentwood house and spread to the outside walls and attic of the home, Battalion Chief Ross Macumber, a spokesman for the East Contra Costa Fire District, said. A neighbor heard the sound of flames and alerted the family of four living on Emory Oak Court, Martinez said. They were out of the home when crews arrived after being dispatched at 7:05 a.m. The blaze caused significant destruction to an outside wall, but crews kept the damages inside the house to a minimum, Macumber said. A fire sprinkler in the garage went off and also prevented it from being worse, he said.
The first of the suspicious fires began just before 5:40 p.m. in Antioch. “We’re trying to figure out whether they’re all related,” said Robert Marshall, a fire marshal for the Contra Costa Fire District. “We get a number of serial-related arsonists, but these are different, because nothing that is predictable is going on with them. They’re all different. That’s what makes it so difficult.”
The church fire began around 6:15 a.m. in a shed on the church grounds, Martinez said. It spread to the attic of a building used on the grounds for congregations of other churches to gather, she said. The fire did not damage the main sanctuary, she said.
Crews stopped the fire from spreading by 6:30 a.m. and had it out by 6:42 a.m, Martinez said. “They could be back in there as soon as (Monday) night,” he said. The battalion chief’s report stated that a hot coal in a plastic garbage can was possibly the cause of the fire.
The morning activity came after crews put out several other fires before midnight, including one that damaged the outside of another home. That fire, at Somerset Place off Hillcrest Avenue in Antioch, started just before 8 p.m. and ran along a fence after starting in the vegetation and up to the house, Martinez said.
Crews earlier had been dispatched to two small roadside fires along East Tregallis Road and Holly Court in Antioch, Fernandez said. Those fires started around 11:35 p.m., about a half-hour after crews were dispatched to Madill Street in Antioch, then told to go to Alpha Way. They put out two small fires, Martinez said, one of which burned near the fences of two houses.
A vegetation fire also burned on Biglow Drive at Gary Avenue around 9:10 p.m., about 3½ hours after crews were called to the first blaze, only two blocks away. That fire happened on Parsons Lane at Lela Way, and, like the ones on Madill Street and Alpha Way, started near a creek, Martinez said.
Investigators don’t have any suspects, and appealed to the public for help. “Other than the location, there’s nothing really that ties these together,” Marshall said. “If anybody sees anything, please let us know. It can be anything at all, anything out of the ordinary.” Those with information to help can call the 866-502-7766 and leave an anonymous message.