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


Subject :

Arson Suspected in Wildland Fire at Arastradero Preserve
Contact : Marianna Villaescusa, Agent, Police    650-329-2413
Palo Alto, CA -- A grass fire that burned about four acres of Palo Alto's Enid W. Pearson-Arastradero Preserve yesterday afternoon was likely the work of an arsonist.

At about 4:08 p.m. on Wednesday, August 8, 2012, the Palo Alto Fire Department responded to a report of a grass fire in the preserve at 1529 Arastradero Road in the Palo Alto foothills.  Fire personnel from CAL FIRE, the Santa Clara County Fire Department, and the Woodside Fire Protection District all responded to assist.  Firefighters were able to get the fire under control just before 5:00 p.m.  There were no injuries during this incident, and no structures sustained damage.

About twenty minutes into the incident, a passing bicyclist stopped to tell a firefighter that he had seen a suspicious person in the area of the fire.  The firefighter passed that information along to police personnel, who located a man matching the description on foot in the area.  Officers from the Palo Alto Police Department detained the man, and later released him pending the results of the criminal investigation.  No further information about the man temporarily detained will be released at this time.

Detectives from the Palo Alto Police Department worked in conjunction with investigators from the Palo Alto Fire Department to investigate the incident.  They were able to determine that five small fires in the same immediate area had been intentionally set, with the total area burned being approximately four acres.

The Arastradero Preserve is currently open, with all hiking trails available for public use.

Detectives are actively investigating this incident, and are also hoping that the passing bicyclist who reported the suspicious person will come forward to provide a more detailed statement to investigators.  Anyone with information about this fire 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.