A homeless man is suspected of igniting two small blazes, one of which was witnessed by fire crews, adjacent to Interstate 215 in Riverside Friday, culminating in police detaining him.
The first blaze was reported about 4:15 p.m near the Blaine Street exit from northbound I-215, and the second fire occurred 10 minutes later near the intersection of Blaine and Iowa Avenue, just north of the UC Riverside campus, according to the Riverside Fire Department.
The agency said that multiple engine crews were sent to the initial fire and found a shopping cart and surrounding debris in flames.
The blaze was knocked down in a few minutes.
While crews were mopping up, they noticed the second spot fire in a debris pile near the intersection and witnessed a transient walking quickly away from the location, according to reports from the scene.
Two witnesses identified the man as the same one who allegedly ignited the first fire.
Firefighters doused the flames moments later and began trailing the suspect, requesting assistance from police.
The man, described as Black, middle-aged and wearing a gray T-shirt and dark-colored pants, was observed by the engine crews walking east on Blaine, then turning around and walking west toward the freeway, officials said.
A Riverside police patrol unit reached the area shortly before 5 p.m., and officers detained the man for questioning. But it was not immediately clear whether he was taken into custody.