A man who allegedly set fires to nine separate locations along the Barton Creek Greenbelt on Thursday stopped because he ran out of lighter fluid, according to an affidavit.
The suspect is identified as Daniel Alexander Daugherty.
The Austin Fire Department was dispatched to first fire at 8:34 a.m. behind the area of Glencliff Dr.
A resident in the area told investigators he heard a noise, like someone was stacking wood, and then saw smoke coming from the area by the creek.
AFD responded to a second fire in the area of Brookhaven Dr. at around 11:00 a.m., half a mile northeast of the first reported fire.
The third fire was reported in the area of Barton Skyway. A witness who was walking nearby told police she saw a white male with disheveled blonde hair with two bottles of lighter fluid in his shorts walking toward the greenbelt right before the fire started, the affidavit says.
AFD responded to two more fires south of the third one, and also four fires after that behind the area of Tether Trail.
A witness walking on the trail told investigators that the suspect walked toward her holding a white plastic bottle with a red cap on it and told her “I think I am out of lighter fluid!”
The same witness said as she walked north, she saw another fire ignited by wood stacked up like a teepee.
Police spotted the suspect matching the description of witnesses sitting near the trail exit of the greenbelt behind the Toys R’ Us store off the Capital of Texas Highway, and arrested him.
He cooperated with investigators and told them that he had been walking the greenbelt all day, but denied setting any fires.
When police searched his personal belongings, the affidavit says they found traces of an “ignitable liquid” on Daugherty’s backpack and shirt.
Police say they believe the fires were intentionally set because of the number, speed and size of the fires and because the suspect matching Daugherty’s description was seen walking away from the fires by multiple witnesses.
Daugherty, who police say is homeless, is charged with nine counts of arson and his bond is set at $900,000.