Suspect in custody after fire at Concord church breaks out 2nd time in less than a week

Concord police on Monday said they took a suspect in custody after Contra Costa Fire District crews put out an early-morning fire at the Christ Community Church of Nazarene in Concord for the second time in four days. 

"Formal charges will be forthcoming," said Fire Marshal Chris Bachman.

Police said the arson suspect, Jesse Marin, 47, is a transient who is "known to police." Authorities said he has some sort of criminal record, involving theft and burglary. Investigators were unable to connect him to the first fire and it's unclear if he was squatting at the church.

He was booked at the jail in Martinez. 

Also, because the fire was at a church, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arrived on scene to investigate.

Bachman told KTVU that at least three spots at the church were intentionally set; two were outside the church and one was underneath the building. Only one of the spots caught fire. 

"There were obvious signs that this was an arson fire," said Bachman.

The latest fire on Monday damaged an administrative building. Early in the morning, firefighters were seen carrying a large cross out as Concord police officers looked for any evidence of a cause.

Janelle Maher, the church's associate pastor, says documents, furniture, books, and a grand piano were all destroyed.

"There are people in the church that say their grandma had played that piano on Sunday for years, so it's emotional, it's sentimental," said Maher.

Last week, firefighters determined homeless living in a crawl space likely led to the first fire at the church, but it wasn't clear if it was set intentionally or accidentally.

Bachman said he wasn't sure if the suspect is responsible for last week's fire because it was burning for so long there was no evidence to connect anyone. 

The fires have deeply affected the church community. 

"I definitely feel like it was more personal the second time. Just because folks know that we just dealt with this already," Maher said on Monday.

Over the weekend, during the church's Sunday service, Maher reflected on the recent events. "I just think when we have one of those weeks, it's so much more important that we take a moment to just be with God and take a breath. Worshipping with my church family is stopping and taking a breath."

Since Easter, the Christ Community Church of Nazarene in Concord held in-person Sunday services. 

The church expects Sunday services to be held this weekend. 

KTVU's Rob Roth contributed to this report. 

Crews with the Contra Costa Fire District responded to a fire early Monday morning at the Christ Community Church of Nazarene in Concord for the second time in four days.