News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


Subject :

Police Arrest Man for Setting Fire to Occupied Home
Contact : Brian Philip, Sergeant, Police Department    650-329-2413
Palo Alto, CA – Police arrested a man over the weekend for setting fire to the occupied home of his former supervisor.

On Saturday, January 9, 2016, at about 6:19 a.m., our 24-hour dispatch center received a 9-1-1 call from a resident in the 3400 block of Kenneth Drive reporting that their garage was on fire.  Officers and personnel from the Palo Alto Fire Department responded to the scene; another resident had extinguished the fire with a garden hose prior to their arrival.

The investigation revealed that shortly before the 9-1-1 call, the three victims (a couple in their fifties, and a teenaged juvenile) were awakened by a smoke detector in their attached garage.  They discovered the garage was full of smoke.  When the adult female victim went to open the garage door, she burned her hand.  The male victim went outside and saw that the exterior of the garage, including the driveway itself, was on fire. He used a garden hose to put the fire out.  Personnel from the Palo Alto Fire Department treated the minor burn injury at the scene; no one else was injured.  The victims' garage sustained moderate to major damage.

Due to the nature of the incident, detectives and investigators from the Palo Alto Fire Department opened an arson investigation immediately.  Detectives were able to quickly identify a possible suspect, who was a disgruntled former employee of the male victim.  On Sunday, January 10, detectives arrested the suspect, 26-year-old Muhammad Hassan Khan, without incident at his home in the 500 block of Webster Street in Palo Alto.  Police booked Khan at the Santa Clara County Main Jail for arson of an inhabited dwelling and attempted murder (both felonies).  The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office has since filed one felony count of arson of an inhabited dwelling against the suspect, with an enhancement for using an accelerant.  The investigation is continuing; when the complete investigation is submitted, the District Attorney’s Office may choose to amend the filed charge(s) as appropriate. A booking photo of the suspect is attached.

The Santa Clara County Arson Task Force, including an accelerant-detecting canine from the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety, assisted with this investigation.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call our 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413.  Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.  Tips can also be submitted anonymously through our free mobile app, downloadable at or