Benicia police and firefighters responded to a fire in an unoccupied apartment at 103 Sunset Circle around 4 p.m. Tuesday, Lt. Frank Hartig said.
The fire was concentrated in the front living room on the lower level of the apartment, which consists of two stories of living area above a garage, Hartig said.
The blaze was under control at 4:22 p.m., Benicia fire Interim Division Chief Joshua Chadwick said.
Police determined that the front door of the apartment had been forced open before the fire started. Based on witness statements and evidence, it was determined that the blaze was deliberately set, Hartig said.
Police contacted Cecil Lamar Fort, 46, who was watching the firefighting activity from the parking lot of the apartment building, Hartig said.
Hartig said Fort often stays with his girlfriend but has a Suisun address. The two have been dating since 2009, and police have responded to "numerous calls" at the apartment previously, he said.
Interviews with witnesses and physical evidence found at the fire scene led police to arrest Fort, Hartig said. He was taken into custody and interviewed by detectives at police headquarters.
While he was being booked on suspicion of arson, Fort became uncooperative and combative with officers, Hartig said.
He also complained of chest pain, and was taken by ambulance to Sutter Solano Medical Center in Vallejo to be examined, Hartig said.
After he was medically cleared, Fort was booked into Solano County Jail under $500,000 bail for arson, residential burglary, felony threats and battery on a police officer, Hartig said.
Fort had also been arrested at about 7:40 p.m. Monday for a domestic violence incident at the apartment, Hartig said.
In that incident, Fort allegedly assaulted his 39-year-old girlfriend, would not allow her to leave a bedroom and threw a rock at her apartment as he was leaving, Hartig said.
He was arrested outside the apartment and booked into Solano County Jail for false imprisonment and vandalism. He later posted bail and was released, Hartig said.