Palo Alto, CA – Police arrested a suspect Saturday night for starting two fires that occurred within 50 minutes of each other. No one other than the suspect was injured.
On Saturday, November 10, 2018, at about 4:18 p.m., our 24-hour dispatch center received a report of a vehicle fire in the 400 block of Curtner Avenue. Employees from a nearby business extinguished the fire before firefighters and police arrived. The vehicle involved was a white 2016 Jeep Wrangler. While officers were on scene investigating, they happened to observe a man walking towards a nearby vacant building, the old Compadres Restaurant site, located in the 3800 block of El Camino Real.
At 5:08 p.m., an officer noticed smoke coming from the vacant building. Personnel from the Palo Alto Fire Department arrived shortly after, entered the old restaurant and found a new fire that was already burning through the roof. Inside, they discovered the same man who police had seen walking towards the building earlier and rescued him from the fire. No other people were inside. Personnel from the Mountain View Fire Department responded to assist in extinguishing the fire, which was contained around 8:30 p.m. Police shut down traffic on El Camino Real between Curtner Avenue and Ventura Avenue for several hours to allow fire personnel to safely work.
Paramedics transported the rescued man to a nearby hospital, where he received treatment for minor smoke-related injuries. The ensuing investigation revealed that the man, 37-year-old Osvaldo Madrigal of Menlo Park, was responsible for setting both fires. It appears as though he may have been illegally squatting inside the building. After receiving treatment at the hospital, police booked the suspect into the Santa Clara County Main Jail for two counts of felony arson, misdemeanor trespassing (for entering the vacant building), and a felony probation violation. The suspect is on probation out of Santa Clara County for assault with a deadly weapon. His booking photo is attached to this release.
Detectives are working collaboratively with arson investigators from the Palo Alto Fire Department to continue to investigate the cause and origin of both fires.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 bit.ly/PAPD-AppStore or bit.ly/PAPD-GooglePlay.