San Ramon man arrested for arson in connection to grass fires

A San Ramon man known to residents for trespassing has been arrested on suspicion of arson in connection to two grass fires that forced evacuations in San Ramon earlier this week.    

William Priest, 39, was arrested by East Bay Regional Park District Police Tuesday and booked into the Martinez jail on one count of arson. He is being held on $75,000 bail. 

Priest’s arrest comes a day after a vegetation fire near Pradera Way and Regalo Way charred about six acres and two days after a separate fire, also in the area of Pradera Way, burned about 7 acres. Both fires forced evacuations of homes. No one was injured and no structures were damaged in the fires. 

Officials said the fire on Sunday, which was within San Ramon city limits and on East Bay Regional Park District property, came within about 30 feet of homes. A firefighter was injured fighting the fire. The fire on Monday was started in the Thomas Ranch area of Las Trampas Regional Park. 

Residents in the area, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, said Priest has trespassed on their property in the past and become hostile when asked to leave.  Authorities have declined to say if they have had prior contact with Priest for trespassing. 

Meanwhile, San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District officials announced the arrest of a person in connection to two small fires in Blackhawk and Danville in recent weeks. The suspect’s name, age and city of residence was not released.