Santa Rosa woman arrested in series of fire

Santa Rosa police have arrested a 50-year-old woman they say set eight fires early Monday as she wandered through the city armed with a cigarette lighter.

The first one was reported at 6:35 a.m. and for the next two hours Santa Rosa firefighters hustled from fire to fire, dousing the small blazes and awaiting the next one.

As the number of suspicious fires grew the number of police officers and Santa Rosa fire investigators combing the area increased.

Using bits of information provided by witnesses, they drove the northern Santa Rosa corridor on each side of Highway 101, trying to spot the firebug before the next call.

By mid-morning Lorraine Helen Martin was stopped near a Bicentennial Way fire, Santa Rosa police Sgt. Phil Brazis said.

The woman, believed to be a Santa Rosa transient, was identified by a witness and taken into custody. A detective and fire investigator interviewed Martin and she was arrested on suspicion of eight counts of arson and taken to the Sonoma County Jail.

None of the fires caused major damage, although a few walls were scorched, Santa Rosa fire Battalion Chief Mark Basque said.

Basque called them "nuisance fires but dangerous."

They started with burning vegetation near Range Avenue and Piner Road.

About 30 minutes later Santa Rosa firefighters were sent to a bush fire on Russell Avenue.

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