Cottonwood arson: $200K damage done in less than an hour


COTTONWOOD, Calif. - The Cottonwood Fire Department has identified the man arrested in connection with a series of arson fires.

Timothy Hawkins, 50, was arrested on two felony counts of arson. Investigators said he is not being cooperative.

Firefighters responded to a series of three fires in Cottonwood late Thursday morning.

The first fire was in the bathroom at Sandy's Specialties doughnut shop on Main Street around 10:30 a.m. Fire officials said the fire caused $10,000 in damages.

The owner, Sandy Cappello, described the strange behavior of the suspect.

"He was talking about the Mafia, and that he owned, he worked for the CIA ... he was kind of talking crazy, but the guys weren't listening to him and he got mad and he asked me if he could use the bathroom," Cappello said.

"He comes out of the bathroom pulling his pants up, he hadn't even finished putting them on all the way, and he hauls out the front door, and well I went to the back and I saw red coming out underneath the door."

Firefighters then noticed smoke nearby on Chestnut Street caused by a fire in an outbuilding that spread to grass and brush. The fire burned a quarter of an acre.

Just as crews finished mopping the second fire up a third fire ignited around 11:20 a.m. only a 100 yards away. This fire completely destroyed a home. Officials estimated the damage to the home at $125,000 with an additional $50,000 worth of property destroyed.

The Shasta County Sheriff's Office joined in the hunt for the suspect, using a helicopter and a K9.

Hawkins was arrested and reportedly admitted to setting the fire. As he was arrested he screamed, "Wallflower, burn the town down." Hawkins continued to yell while being taken into custody.

During the arrest, investigators found an attempt to set a fourth fire at another building in the area.

Hawkins was initially arrested on two counts of arson for the fires at Sandie's Specialties and the residence on Trade Way. More charges may be filed pending the outcome of the investigation.