A Sebastopol transient, in custody involving two small arson fires, is a suspect in more than 20 other suspicious flare-ups in Santa Rosa, according to fire officials.
The tiny fires began cropping up earlier this month in various spots in central and west Santa Rosa, including Roseland, Dutton Avenue and along the Joe Rodota and Prince Memorial Greenway trails.
One night, two or three fires would occur, or there would be two or three in a day, followed by a break for a few days, said Santa Rosa fire Battalion Chief Jack Piccinini.
Some were dumpster fires, but most burned spots of debris or grass, often along a trail or railroad tracks or behind buildings.
No similar fires have occurred since Friday evening, when Sebastopol police arrested Patrick Jon Klimesh, 49.
At about 5 p.m. that day, two fires were reported along the Joe Rodota trail, which connects Sebastopol and Santa Rosa. One fire was near Fulton Road, and one was just east of Sebastopol.
Witness statements pointed Sebastopol officers to Klimesh, who was identified as a local transient. He admitted to lighting the fires, Sebastopol police said.
That night, Santa Rosa fire prevention officer Scott Moon interviewed Klimesh at the Sonoma County Jail about the string of arsons.
“I questioned him about involvement in any other fires,” said Moon. “He did not admit to any of them. However, to this point we haven't had any additional fires ... It leads me to believe possibly he has had some involvement.”
The largest and last of the fires grew to about a half-acre along the Joe Rodota Trail, Moon said.
“We're lucky they have not led to some serious fire,” Piccinini said. “History says, sooner or later, it is going to result in a pretty serious fire.”
In July, a blaze believed to have been set by another transient destroyed Sebastopol's landmark Frizelle Enos feed store. Steven Barton Edmonds, 53, was arrested on suspicion of starting the fire that caused $2.8 million in damages. Edmonds, who is being held on $102,000 bail at Sonoma County Jail, is facing one felony arson charge in the incident and is next due in court Nov. 22 for a preliminary hearing.
Klimesh was unable to appear at a Tuesday morning arraignment on the felony and misdemeanor charges and the hearing was postponed. He was expected to undergo a mental health evaluation, said Kathleen Pozzi, Sonoma County public defender.
Klimesh remained in custody in lieu of $10,000 bail.
You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 521-5412 or firstname.lastname@example.org.