The man who authorities believe was setting fires in the Barton Creek Greenbelt Thursday afternoon has been arrested. The first brush fire was reported around 9:30 a.m. in the area of Bartoncliff Drive and Brookhaven Drive.
Then, two more fires were started around 11 a.m. Around 12:30 p.m., an onslaught of around a dozen fires began along the greenbelt near Barton Springs Pool moving toward Loop 360.
The suspect, identified as Daniel Daugherty, was taken into custody around 2:30 p.m.
AFD Division Chief Thayer Smith said the suspect is a homeless man known to police who used a lighter and charcoal fluid. The suspect is now facing numerous charges of second-degree arson.
Chief Smith said witnesses saw the man setting the fires. “I certainly can’t speak to his state of mind that would do something that could have been so catastrophic if the weather conditions had been different,” Smith said.
No structures were damaged and no one was injured.
Multiple crews from the Austin Fire Department and Westlake were working both sides of the creek to fight the fires. A STAR Flight helicopter helped with aerial drops in areas where ground crews couldn’t reach. Wildfire crews also used ATVs to get to harder to reach areas.
AFD said recent rain and high humidity helped keep the fires from getting out of hand.
“Under different weather conditions, it certainly could have been catastrophic,” Smith said. “With that many fires set that quickly with homes right along the cliff edges, it certainly could’ve been a lot worse.”