OAKLAND -- A transient has been charged with arson of a structure in a deliberately set fire that did more than $150,000 damage April 4 at a UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital of Oakland administrative building, authorities said Friday.
John Jay Fitzgibbons, 43, admitted being in the area of the fire that started about 2 a.m. April 4 at 670 53rd St., but claimed he did not remember setting or seeing a fire, authorities said. He claimed he had been drinking and said he was in the area to visit someone.
Fitzgibbons was identified after Fire Department Arson Investigator Maria Sabatini released video surveillance to the media of a person of interest seen in the area where the fire started.
The fire was started outside the building, spread inside and up into the attic before firefighters controlled it. No one was injured.
Sabatini got tips that Fitzgibbons was the person seen in the video and his identity was soon confirmed. No other people were seen in the video, authorities said.
Fitzgibbons was arrested Sunday night near 40th Street and Broadway for violating a restraining order issued in a domestic violence case. After being interviewed by investigators, he was charged Tuesday.
Sabatini said the identification and arrest could not have happened without the community's help. "Public safety is everyone's responsibility. The residents of this city clearly want to do their part to keep Oakland safe and we appreciate it," she said.
Fitzgibbons has pleaded not guilty to the arson charge and will have a preliminary examination May 6. He is being held on $85,000 bail at Santa Rita Jail and could face up to six years in prison if convicted. His attorney did not return a call seeking comment.