David Petrashishen had a knack for fixing up cars and once worked for his family’s auto repair business.
Why he allegedly set fire to a grass field near Elverta on Monday remains unknown, his family said in an interview Tuesday. The 25-year-old Rancho Cordova man was arrested on arson charges for allegedly starting a blaze that charred 430 acres in the Elverta area, north of Sacramento.
“I don’t know what the hell he was doing out there,” said the suspect’s younger brother, Aleks Petrashishen Jr., 20.
Aleks Petrashishen said his brother was unemployed and depressed.
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He last saw the suspect on Sunday, when he fixed him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at their parent’s Rancho Cordova home. “I didn’t think he was capable of something like that,” Aleks Petrashishen said.
Placer County sheriff’s deputies arrested David Petrashishen as he was leaving the scene of the fire. According to investigators, he was carrying a lighter, book of matches and a pack of cigarettes. Officials said the suspect made “numerous admissions” when questioned by deputies.
The grass fire began just before 1 p.m. Monday in Placer County and was swept by the wind into Sacramento County, threatening 20 to 30 homes, according to officials. The flames burned in the area of Browning Street and Locust Road near the Sacramento-Placer county line and moved rapidly through the fields.
Several communities were evacuated during the incident. The Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District reported that one home, six vehicles and one tractor were destroyed. No injuries were reported.
Metro Fire and the Placer County Sheriff’s Office are conducting a joint investigation. Petrashishen is being charged with two separate counts of arson and remains at the Placer County jail in lieu of $300,000 bail.
The Petrashishen family’s auto repair business was once based in Pleasant Grove, an unincorporated Sutter County community about 9 miles north of Elverta. The business has since moved to Rancho Cordova.
David Petrashishen is scheduled to be arraigned in Placer Superior Court on Wednesday at 1 p.m. in Auburn.