Contra Costa County car fires linked, fire officials say

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Contra Costa County fire officials said Thursday that a five suspicious car fires that occurred this week throughout the county are all related, raising the possibility that a serial arsonist is behind the blazes.

During a press conference, Fire Marshal Robert Marshall said said the person responsible for the five vehicle fires may have set other blazes that have been reported earlier this year and into 2016. 

"We do believe there are a number of fires that are all related because of certain characteristics of those fires," Marshall said, while declining to provide an exact number of related blazes but saying they were higher than news media reports.

Vehicle fires were also reported Monday on Fraga Court in Martinez and Wednesday on Leroy Lane in Walnut Creek and Padre Street in Lafayette, Marshall said.

There appear to be some common characteristics connecting the fires. All of them occurred during the early morning hours, generally between midnight and 4 a.m.

"What we're really asking for is the public's help," Marshall said.

A Chevy truck parked in the driveway of Hollowbrook Way was torched and the fire spread to the garage of the house.  The homeowner told KTVU that everyone, including two sleeping boys, were OK.

Ten minutes earlier and about a mile away, there was another car fire on Highland Way about 3:30 a.m., according to the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District.

Neighbors heard the commotion and came outside to see what was going on. One neighbor said he heard the car alarm go off and a big boom, prompting him to come outside. Those homeowners were not home at the time.

Fire crews remained on the scene Thursday morning. They said that both of these fires appeared suspicious because it is unusual to have two care fires break out 10 minutes apart so clothes to each other.

Over the course of this week, there have been at least three other car fires in the western part of the county in Martinez, Walnut Creek and Lafayette.

Investigators said anyone with surveillance information was asked to provide the footage to police.

Residents were asked to call the county's Arson Tip Line at 866-50-ARSON with tips.

KTVU reporter Alyana Gomez, Allie Rasmus and Bay City News contributed to this report.