EL CERRITO -- A 36-year-old suspected arsonist has been arrested for a string of recent fires in the El Cerrito hills, authorities said Wednesday.

Marcos Gonzales, of El Cerrito, was arrested on Tuesday, and booked him at County Jail in Martinez on suspicion of seven counts of arson, police said.

Gonzales is believed to be responsible for seven blazes between July 18 and July 22 in the area of Moeser Lane, Seaview Drive and Shevlin Drive, all arson fires, according to El Cerrito officials. Five of the incidents were grass fires and two spread to structures, according to police.

During the first reported fire a witnesses told police they saw a man yelling at drivers and passers-by while flicking on a lighter. No one was injured in the fires.

Authorities did not say how the dual investigation by police and fire led them to Gonzales. An off-duty police lieutenant spotted Gonzales on Tuesday walking on Moeser Lane near the Hillside Nature area as detectives were finishing an affidavit to obtain a warrant for his arrest, police said.

He was later arrested with the help of a California Highway Patrol helicopter and El Cerrito police on off-road motorcycles.

The investigation is ongoing. Police have not ruled out the possibility that there is a second suspect at large.

David DeBolt covers breaking news. Contact him in Richmond at 510-262-2728. Follow him at Twitter.com/daviddebolt.



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