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Fire department volunteer arrested on suspicion of arson

May 6, 2013 12:36:19 PM PDT
A volunteer with the Benicia Fire Department was arrested early Monday morning on suspicion of arson and attempted arson in connection with three fires that took place Friday night, police said Monday.

Robert Edward McKinley, 23, was arrested around 1:11 a.m. today near the scene of an arson attempt at 3300 Park Road, Lt. Frank Hartig said Monday.

Police were searching for a suspect seen running from the scene when they found McKinley nearby in the parking lot of Alex's Automotive at 3190 Bayshore Road.

He was with his vehicle, which had a flat tire, and had black soot and ash on his hands, shoes and face, Hartig said. When officers searched his vehicle they found evidence linking him to previous arson fires.

McKinley is now suspected of starting a fire around 10:30 p.m. Saturday on Cambridge Drive near Capitol Drive, possibly using tissue paper. At around 11:19 p.m., two other fires were discovered on Reservoir Road, again with tissue paper at the point of origin.

A witness reported seeing a sedan similar to McKinley's vehicle leaving the scene of the Reservoir Road fires. Police also located wadded up tissue paper similar to the earlier fires at the scene of the attempted arson on Park Road, Hartig said.

McKinley was arrested on two counts of arson and one count of attempted arson.

Investigators have since determined that McKinley is a volunteer with the Benicia Fire Department.

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