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


Subject :

Police Make Arrest in Arson Fire at Arastradero Preserve
Contact : Marianna Villaescusa, Agent, Police    650-329-2413
Palo Alto, CA -- Detectives from the Palo Alto Police Department arrested a suspect this morning for intentionally setting last week's four-acre wildland fire at the Enid W. Pearson-Arastradero Preserve.

Since the fire on August 8, detectives have been conducting follow-up investigation in conjunction with crime scene personnel and fire investigators from the Palo Alto Fire Department.  The results of that investigation led to the identification of 50-year-old Damon Lee Luce as the sole suspect in the case.  Police had detained Luce at the time of the fire near the scene, after a passing bicyclist had reported a suspicious person matching his description.  Police later released Luce pending the results of additional investigation.

This morning at about 0915 hours, detectives went to the Industrial Hotel at 505 Cypress Street in South San Francisco, the most recent known address for the suspect.  They took him into custody without incident, and booked him at the Santa Clara County Main Jail for five counts of felony arson.  Police are not releasing a booking photo of Luce at this time, so as not to taint possible future witness identifications (update: booking photo released on August 18, 2012).

On the day of the incident, investigators were able to determine that five small fires in the same immediate area had been intentionally set, with the total burned area being approximately four acres.  Fire personnel from the Palo Alto Fire Department, CAL FIRE, the Santa Clara County Fire Department, and the Woodside Fire Protection District were able to bring the blaze under control in about one hour.  There were no injuries during the fire, and no structures sustained damage.

Although the suspect is in custody, anyone with information about this fire is still 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.