A Suspected Arsonist is Arrested Less than One Mile from Burned Forestland

A Suspected Arsonist is Arrested Less than One Mile from Burned Forestland

ANTIOCH — The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) arrested a suspected arsonist. The suspect was taken into custody less than one mile away from a patch of burned forestland.

William R. Melendez, 36 of Antioch, is suspected of intentionally starting a vegetation fire along a walking trail on September 14. The fire occurred in the vicinity of James Donlon Boulevard and G Street in Antioch.

While firefighters were putting out the blaze, Antioch police officers located and detained Melendez. Initially, Melendez claimed that he accidentally started the fire with a discarded cigarette.

Upon further investigation, Con Fire investigators questioned Melendez and he apparently changed his story. This time, Melendez said he started the fire with a cigarette lighter, hoping to dry sweat from his skin.

He told investigators that he attempted to extinguish the fire, but he became frightened when he heard fire sirens and ran away. Nevertheless, Melendez faces one count of arson to forestland PC 451 (C).

A prepared statement released by Con Fire says: “Examination of the scene revealed no evidence of a cigarette. The fire was determined to have been intentionally set.”

Melendez was arrested by Con Fire investigators on the 3500 block of Nightingale Drive. He was booked into the Martinez Detention Facility. He remains in custody in lieu of $150,000 bond.

Melendez has frequent contacts with law enforcement. He has prior arrests for being under the influence of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. That’s in addition to four arrests on bench warrants for failure to appear to answer misdemeanor charges.

A Suspected Arsonist is Arrested Less than One Mile from Burned Forestland was last modified: September 20th, 2021 by admin
Categories: Contra Costa
Tags: arson

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