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.
Within 20 minutes they were called to multiple trash can fires on Cleveland Avenue, followed minutes later by a nearby smoldering dumpster fire.
The fires then were on Professional Drive, near the Sonoma County government complex. One dumpster fire was reported at 7:53 a.m. and another dumpster fire on the same street was at 8:02 a.m.
Seven minutes later a mattress was burning on Piner Road. The final fire - in a dumpster - was reported at 8:26 a.m. on Bicentennial Way.
Initial reports, based on information from witnesses, indicated others could be involved. Brazis said that remains under investigation.
Brazis asked anyone with information about the fires to call Detective Mark Azzouni at (707) 543-4073.
North Bay Suicide Prevention 24-hour hotline: 855-587-6373
NAMI Sonoma County warmline: 707-527-6655
Sonoma County Psychiatric Emergency Services: 707-576-8181
For information on Sonoma County support groups, call 707-527-6655 or go to namisonomacounty.org