Police suspect arson in two Santa Rosa car fires
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 8:46 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 8:46 p.m.
Santa Rosa police are investigating two vehicles apparently set aflame over the weekend in a quiet Santa Rosa neighborhood.
A Dodge pickup and a Cadillac Escalade parked on Leafgreen Drive near Matanzas Park burned at about 2:30 a.m. Saturday, Fire Inspector Marita Petersen said.
Detectives were still looking for a suspect, Police Sgt. Mike Lazzarini said.
The fires started somewhere toward the front of the vehicles on the roof or hood and "breached into the engine compartment," Petersen said.
Investigators found no obvious ignition source or fuel that might have been used to set the fires, she said. She said it was too early in the investigation to say how they suspect the fires were set.
Lazzarini declined to discuss the specifics of the case.
Neighbors said both vehicles were owned by one family.
Rich De Lambert, 78, lives about five houses down from the site of the fires on Evergreen Drive and went outside after a neighbor called him. By then firefighters were dousing the fire.
"At first I thought, 'This is going to explode,' " De Lambert said.
Neighbors pounded on the car owner's door, he said, hoping to warn them and pull them to a safer spot.
The suspected arson was to have been a topic of discussion at a Wednesday night neighborhood meeting focused on emergency planning, said De Lambert, a volunteer with a group called Citizens Organized to Prepare for Emergencies.
"It's a very quiet neighborhood," he said. "People don't know what happened, and they're very concerned."
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