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Rossmoor Man Suspected of Series of Arsons

Small grass fires at Lafayette address had potential to escalate into wildfires.

Update, April 12, added photo of suspect.

A Rossmoor man is being held on $225,000 bail on suspicion of arson involving a series of small grass fires at large grassland Lafayette properties adjacent to his home, county fire investigators reported.

Arrested Friday was Brent Robert Kastroff, 62, by fire investigators and Walnut Creek police officers, according to a press release from the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District.

In January, investigators looked into a small fire on private property on Vista Del Valle in Lafayette, a 90-acre parcel with three homes and grassy slopes posing a wildfire threat.

The investigation led to the discovery of a previously unreported fire in May 2011 in the same area; last month, a third fire on the property was reported, according to the press release.

Investigators assisted by on-duty firefighters from Lafayette Station 17 developed witness information in a neighborhood canvass. In an interview, Kastroff admitted he had started the fires and led investigators to the sites. Kastroff felt he had done nothing wrong because the fires were small and only touched off some pieces of paper causing small spots of grass to burn, according to the fire district's press release.

Any fire, accidental or intentional, has the potential to become catastrophic, the press release stated. Fire investigators submitted the case to the District Attorney’s Office Friday and a warrant for arson was issued for Kastroff’s arrest.

Kastroff has a history of fire setting dating back to 1995, including an arrest in San Rafael in 1998 for setting fire to small papers in a trash can, fire investigators said. Other arsonists apprehended by the Fire Investigation Unit in recent years started with such small fires in the beginning of their sprees, according to the press release.

A fire appearing to be small or harmless may be important signs of dangerous or potential arson activity, investigators said.

In 2011, the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District's Fire Investigation Unit responded to more than 700 fires of suspicious origin. If anyone is aware of any fires possibly associated with Kastroff, they are asked to call the Fire Investigation Unit at (925) 942-9140 or call the arson tip line at (866) 502-7766.

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