Concord man charged with starting Oakland wildfire, armed robbery

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Alfredo Batista plead not guilty Tuesday to a series of bizarre crimes last week which include arson, attempted robbery and car theft.

RELATED: Grizzly Peak fire in the Oakland hills is now 90-percent contained

According to court documents, the 24-year-old Concord man confessed to a police officer he started last Wednesday's fire in the Oakland hills with a cigarette lighter. The blaze took three days to extinguish.

Before the fire began, police say Bautista tried robbing two victims at gunpoint who were sitting in their car on Grizzly Peak Boulevard.

RELATED: Firefighter falls 50 feet at scene of East Bay blaze

"I didn't know if I was going to die," said victim Dru Anne Billings.

Billings says she took off in her car to get away from Bautista, who then chased her.

RELATED: Former ABC7 photographer recalls destructive Oakland Hills fire on 25th anniversary

"He followed in a stolen car, he crashed into me repeatedly until I lost control of my car," said Billings.

She crashed her PT cruiser into a parked car. The suspect eventually ran off.

Hours later, after the fire began, witnesses report seeing Bautista trying to steal a car at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab. Those witnesses stopped him until UC police arrived.

A pretrial hearing for Bautista is set for Aug. 15.
Copyright © 2022 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.