Home NEWS Police/Fire Antioch Arson Suspect Hoped To “Dry Off” When He Set Fire, Investigators...

Antioch Arson Suspect Hoped To “Dry Off” When He Set Fire, Investigators Say

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From Con Fire:

On-Scene Collaboration with Antioch PD Results in Arrest of Walking Trail Arsonist

CONCORD, CALIF., Sept. 15, 2021 – Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) today announced its fire investigators, working with Antioch Police, made an arrest yesterday in an intentionally set fire along a walking trail in Antioch.

William Melendez, 36, a resident of Antioch, was arrested on one count of Arson of a Structure or Forest Land (PC 451(c)). The arrest occurred in the 3500 block of Nightingale Drive, Antioch. Con Fire investigators responded, along with fire crews, to a vegetation fire on James Donlon Boulevard near G Street in Antioch at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. The first engine on scene reported a five by-20-foot vegetation fire on the walking trail. As the fire was being attacked, Antioch Police detained a suspect less than a mile away who admitted accidentally setting the fire with a discarded cigarette.

He was positively identified as William Robert Melendez.

The Con Fire investigator subsequently interviewed Melendez who stated he had started the fire and it got out of control. He said he attempted to put it out but got scared and fled as the sirens of emergency vehicles were heard approaching. Melendez further said that, at the time of setting the fire, it was hot outside, he was sweating, and he used a lighter to start the fire, hoping to dry the sweat off his skin with the heat from the fire.

Examination of the scene revealed no evidence of a cigarette; the fire was determined to have been intentionally set. Melendez was arrested and booked at the Martinez Detention Facility.

Con Fire’s Fire Investigation Unit asks residents to help them fight the crime of arson by calling the Arson Tip Line at 1-866-50-ARSON. They caution residents not to hesitate on information that seems seems too little or unimportant, adding some of the most valuable tips come from residents who were not aware what they saw was very important to the investigation of an incident. Residents can leave a recorded message on the tip line about fire-related criminal activity in English or Spanish.

Tips can be anonymous, and all tips are treated confidentially. But investigators sometimes need additional information, so contact information is encouraged.


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