On Saturday February 16, two vehicles burned in a quiet Santa Rosa neighborhood near Matanzas Park. According to news reports at the Press Democrat, police are investigating and believe the fires were intentionally set. The two vehicles that burned included a Cadillac Escalade and a Dodge pickup. Detectives were still in search of a suspect at the time of news reports, according to Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Mike Lazzarini.
The fires occurred at approximately 2:30 a.m. according to Fire Inspector Marita Petersen; the vehicles were parked on Leafgreen Drive, and according to neighbors in the area both belonged to one family. Petersen said that the fires breached into the engine compartments after beginning in the front portions of the vehicles, likely the roof or hood. She would give no indication of how investigators believed the fires were set, saying it was too early to speculate. Investigators could find no fuel or other obvious source of ignition at the scene, although they continue to investigate.
Rich De Lambert, a 78-year-old neighbor in the vicinity, said that he thought at first that the vehicles would explode. At the time De Lambert had been called by a neighbor and went outside, the fire was being doused by firefighters. He also told reporters that neighbors were attempting to warn the family who owned the vehicles, pounding on the door of their home. De Lambert is a volunteer manager with Citizens Organized to Prepare for Emergencies; he said that neighbors are extremely concerned, considering the neighborhood is typically quiet.
Santa Rosa arson attorneys know that an individual convicted on charges of arson face serious criminal penalties. In California, the penalties an individual may face depend on a number of factors, including criminal history, the type of property burned, whether the fire was deliberately or “recklessly” set, or if someone may have sustained injuries caused by the fire. Depending on the circumstances, you could spend several years in prison; an individual may also be given a “strike” under the Three Strikes law.
If you have been charged with arson or are under investigation, your best defense is to consult with a capable and effective Santa Rosa criminal defense lawyer who will work to protect your legal rights and keep you out of jail.