William Patrick Brennan, 48, of San Jose has been charged with two counts of arson, Assistant Police Chief Eddie Garcia said during a news conference outside police headquarters.
Additional charges are likely against Brennan who police believe acted alone in the fires that began on Jan. 8 and lasted through Saturday, Garcia said.
"We are extremely certain that we have the individual responsible for all of the arsons that have occurred in the city," Garcia said.
The fires include a five-alarm blaze at a warehouse, church and a home whose elderly owners barely got out alive.
Surveillance footage, including a recording that showed a man matching the suspect's description starting a fire on the porch of a home, proved critical, Garcia said. The deputy chief also credits a hard-working police sergeant who scanned through criminal databases and came across Brennan's name as a registered arsonist and noticed that he lived near where the fires occurred.
Police began watching him and once they began building their case, they got a search warrant for his home and retrieved additional evidence linking him to the fires, Garcia said.
Police do not have a motive for the fires, the deputy chief added.
Brennan is being held on $1 million bail. He has a previous criminal record for arson in California as well as out of state, said Garcia. He did not get into specifics.
Though no one was injured in the fires, one blaze destroyed the home of a couple in their 60s, who were rescued by neighbors and barely escaped alive. More than 100 firefighters battled a massive blaze at a large vacant warehouse near U.S. Highway 101 last Thursday that delayed the morning commute and closed two nearby schools for the day.
Earlier in the week, authorities released a sketch of a person of interest in the case, and the San Jose firefighters union put up a $10,000 reward for information leading to the suspect's arrest and conviction.
Some residents began patrolling the area themselves to prevent another attack.