Suspect arrested in arson that claimed home, dogs

Police arrested a Modesto man in connection with an arson that left three families without shelter and killed four dogs, authorities said Saturday.

Cody Sisk, 22, has been charged with domestic violence, assault with a deadly weapon, arson and cruelty to animals. He is in custody, held in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Lt. Scott Blom of the Modesto police said the Friday afternoon fire started shortly after Sisk had an argument with a woman who lived in a home in the 600 block of Empire Avenue, in the airport neighborhood.

The woman left the house, he said, then returned to find her rental home engulfed in flames. He declined to discuss the nature of the domestic dispute, or whether the woman was injured.

"A couple of fires got set in the house, in a couple of different places," Blom said.

Witnesses told police they saw Sisk leave the home before the fire broke out. A community service officer spotted Sisk walking a few blocks away and kept an eye on him until a sergeant showed up and arrested Sisk on Friday without incident.

Seven adults and nine children lived in the house. Some family members were in a nearby park about 1:15 p.m. when they spotted smoke coming from the house and called 911. Firefighters arrived on the scene at 1:23 p.m. and had the blaze contained within eight minutes.

No one was seriously injured, but one man burned his arm as he tried to rescue a mother dog and three puppies that were trapped in a bathroom and perished in the fire. A fifth dog escaped the blaze.

The fire caused about $130,000 in damage; 22 firefighters battled the blaze.

"Half of the house sustained major fire damage," said battalion chief Sean Slamon of the Modesto Fire Department. "But we were able to prevent it from spreading any further."

Bee staff writer Susan Herendeen can be reached at or 578-2338.