Man charged in series of vehicle fires in Contra Costa County

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CONCORD (BCN) -- By Bay City News Service

The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District has identified the Pittsburg man arrested early Saturday morning in connection with a series of recent vehicle fires.

James Bishop III, 36, was arrested around 1 a.m. Saturday in Benicia. He had allegedly set fire to a vehicle in a residential driveway when officers approached him.

He's been charged with one count of arson to an inhabited structure, nine counts of arson to property and eight counts of using an accelerant to set a fire.

Investigators noticed an increase in the number of vehicle fires in April, noting that they shared some common characteristics including the use of an accelerant on the vehicles' exteriors.

Using security videos from homes and businesses near the scenes of the fires, they identified a Toyota RAV4 associated with the suspect. Bishop was driving a 1996 RAV4 at the time of his arrest, according to firefighters.

Investigators note that the number of vehicle fires in the area has dropped off to a more typical rate since Bishop's arrest.

Family members told KTVU Bishop is trained in computer tech and is shocked at the charges. 

The case remains under investigation, and fire officials are asking anyone who lives near the scene of a recent car fire to come forward with information that may be of use to prosecutors - such as security camera
footage that shows Bishop or the RAV4 he was driving.

Anyone with information can call the arson tip line at 1 (866) 50-ARSON.