Suspected Santa Rosa serial arsonist to be arraigned Tuesday

SANTA ROSA (BCN) — An alleged serial arsonist will be arraigned in Sonoma County Superior Court Tuesday afternoon for allegedly starting grass and vegetation fires at or near a busy intersection in west Santa Rosa.

James Raymond, 61, of Santa Rosa, was arrested on a warrant Friday night in the area of Marlow and Guerneville roads where 13 fires occurred between June 29 and July 8, Santa Rosa police Sgt. Josh Ludtke said.

Video from a business’s surveillance camera captured Raymond near the location at the time of one of the fires, Ludtke said.

The fires, started with a match or lighter, caused minimal property damage but posed a significant danger because they were close to residential structures, according to Ludtke.

Raymond, who had no prior arrest record, admitted to setting one of the fires, Ludtke said. He was booked on 10 counts of arson and is being held in the Sonoma County Jail under $50,000 bail.

Nine of the 13 fires were set between June 29 and July 4, four of them between midnight and 4 a.m. on July 4, Ludtke said.

Raymond was arrested July 4 after witness identified him as the person seen in a field where one of the arsons occurred, Ludtke said.

Raymond was released from jail July 7, and four hours later, three fires occurred between just before midnight and 3:40 p.m. July 8 in the Marlow Road area, Ludtke said. The third fire occurred about 100 yards from where Raymond was living, Ludtke said.

Based on evidence and contacts made with Raymond over several days, witness accounts and surveillance video, Raymond was arrested for 10 counts of arson, Ludtke said.

There were no additional reports of arson during the two times Raymond has been in custody, Ludtke said.

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