UPDATED: Two arrested in connection with string of apparent arson fires

UPDATED: Two arrested in connection with string of apparent arson fires

Michele Ellson

Updated at 12:40 p.m. Monday, September 29.

Alameda police have arrested two men in connection with a string of apparent arson fires that took place within a seven-block radius on and around Park Street Sunday morning.

Police arrested Stephen Michael Petersen, 27, of Alameda at 2:30 a.m. Sunday on the 2100 block of San Jose Avenue and Andrew Resto Gutierrez, 22, at 4:11 a.m. Sunday at the scene of a fire on the 1600 block of Park Street, Alameda Police Department logs show. The pair are scheduled for an arraignment Tuesday afternoon and are being held at Santa Rita Jail in lieu of bail - $750,000 for Petersen and $1 million for Gutierrez.

The fires, which police said appeared to have been intentionally set at homes and businesses on Park, Regent and Willow streets and on San Antonio Avenue, displaced four people from two residences and appeared to have gutted the Park Street storefront where Angela's restaurant was set to reopen in October - one of the five businesses affected by the fires.

No one was injured, and Alameda Fire Chief Mike D'Orazi said at a press conference Sunday. The department said the fires caused $3 million in damage - $2.6 million of it to Angela's and other businesses on the 1600 block of Park Street, $300,000 in damage to a converted Victorian on the 2200 block on San Antonio Avenue and $100,000 to a home on the 1100 block of Regent Street.

Thirty-seven Alameda firefighters - several of whom were off duty but called in to fight the blazes - plus additional firefighters from Oakland, Berkeley and Alameda County pitched in to help fight the string of fires, which were called in between 12:56 a.m. and 4:41 a.m. Sunday. Police arrested the two men near the scene of the final fire, on the 1500 block of Park Street; 15 officers and five investigators are working the case; they weren't yet ready to say whether the fires were planned by the alleged arsonists or whether drugs or alcohol were a factor in the blazes.

D'Orazi said most of the damage was confined to outside of the homes and businesses; some of the fires were set in garbage cans and dumpsters. He said firefighters were able to extinguish most of the blazes before they spread to other buildings.

The city called in a multi-agency arson task force to help investigate the fires, which have been deemed suspicious.

The first call came at 12:56 a.m. from a residence on the 1300 block of Regent Street; Alameda Fire Capt. Jim Colburn said the fire was contained to a dumpster near the building, where it appeared to have begun. A second call about smoke came in at 1:11 a.m. from the 500 block of Willow Street, though that call has been removed from the list of calls related to the alleged arson incidents.

Some residents were displaced due to damage caused by the next fire called in, at the 1100 block of Regent Street, and the following one, to a residence on the 2200 block of San Antonio Avenue; the Regent Street fire damaged a rear room of the home and its attic, while the San Antonio Avenue fire severely damaged the converted Victorian and caused damage to a vehicle and a building next door.

Firefighters got their fifth call of the morning, for a fire at a residence on the 1000 block of Willow Street, at 2:35 a.m., where they found a car on fire in a garage. The next call came in almost an hour later, at 3:30 a.m., at an apartment building on the 2200 block of Encinal Avenue; Colburn said that fire was contained to a garbage can near the building.

Forty minutes later, they received a call about a fire on the 1600 block of Park Street, which damaged several businesses, including Angela's. Colburn said several vehicles behind the businesses were also on fire.

The final fire took place behind businesses on the 1500 block of Park Street; firefighters said they got the call at 4:39 a.m.

Fire officials couldn't yet say whether a car fire on the 1100 block of Regent Street called in at 9:29 a.m. Sunday was related to the other fires being investigated.

We'll continue to follow this story and to update you as new details come in.

RAW VIDEO: Here's some raw video of the press conference police and fire leaders conducted Sunday morning.


Submitted by frank on Sun, Sep 28, 2014

Just now as I am reading this there is a car fire on Regent

Submitted by luczai (not verified) on Sun, Sep 28, 2014

Right in my neighborhood. Very scary. It will be interesting to see what this was all about.

Submitted by Alameetcha (not verified) on Mon, Sep 29, 2014

As arrests are a matter of public record, tracking down the names is pretty simple. For those who are interested:
http://alamedaca.gov/sites/default/files/department-files/2014-09-29/dl_... .

Submitted by Michelle (not verified) on Mon, Sep 29, 2014

Stephen Michael Petersen, one of (the alleged arsonists) is on you tube


singing a catchy little tune and picking a mean guitar to some gory war and animal rights footage. Warning, the animal footage is sad.

Submitted by randy post (not verified) on Tue, Sep 30, 2014

I feel for the people who suddenly lost their homes. If you hear of any donation accounts being set up, I (and others) would welcome knowing of it.

Submitted by freestephenpetersen (not verified) on Thu, Oct 2, 2014

Stephen didnt do it! The police are officially corrupt in my opinion. Why would someone who cares so much about earth and the people on it do something like that... Free Stephen Petersen!

Submitted by frank on Fri, Oct 3, 2014

Someone should start a Facebook page with the timeline and facts of this case.

Submitted by frank on Fri, Oct 3, 2014

Found this Facebook page for those who may be interested