Saturday, January 18, 2014

Three arrested for recklessly starting Colby, California fire in an area not approved for camping and access to which was restricted due to fire concerns-LA Times

"The area is not a designated camping spot and access to the area is restricted because of fire concerns."...
1/16/14, "Wildfire near L.A.: Officer nabs suspects, 'knew something was off'," LA Times,

Miranda said the men were running in the wash alongside the road. It seemed like they were trying not to be seen, she said. When she stopped the pair, they said they were running because they were scared of the fire, she said.

“They said their friend was with them and they had lost him,” she said.

When Miranda asked the men if they had anything to do with the blaze about three miles away, they denied it, she said. But the men were disheveled -- out of breath, covered in ash and smelled like smoke. “I knew immediately that something was off,” she said.

Miranda quickly searched their backpacks, finding marijuana and cigarettes. She took them to the Glendora Police Department, she said, with no sign of their missing friend.

That man, Glendora Police Chief Tim Staab said, was picked up by forest officials as he walked down Glendora Mountain Road.

“A U.S. Forest Service truck offered him a ride because he was in a dangerous area,” he said.

The man was taken farther down the hill away from the growing blaze and police began looking into his activity.

“Anybody in that area at that time of morning is someone we want to talk to,” Staab said....

The suspects -- identified as Clifford Eugene Henry, 22, of Glendora; Jonathan Carl Jarrell, 23, of Irwindale; and Steven Robert Aguirre, 21, a Los Angeles transient were arrested on suspicion of recklessly starting a fire. They are now being held in lieu of $20,000 bail.

One person suffered some burns and was taken to a local hospital for treatment. “There’s absolutely no evidence that these three men started the fire on purpose,” Staab told The Times on Thursday afternoon.

The trio had been sitting around a campfire “trying to stay warm,” Staab said, when a “gust of wind came up.” “That’s what started the fire,” the chief said....

The area is not a designated camping spot and access to the area is restricted because of fire concerns.

The Colby fire started at 5:55 a.m. and quickly grew, but fire officials said they were well staffed and ready to fight it because of red flag alerts issued in response to hot and dry weather and gusty winds.

When firefighters arrived on the scene, they immediately called a second alarm. The fire was inaccessible by engines and burning away from the road, said Jim Tomaselli of the U.S. Forest Service.

About 700 fire personnel battled the blaze as well as more than a dozen aircraft."...


""They told us they were camping out," he said."

1/16/14, "3 Men Arrested for Allegedly Starting the Colby Fire,"

"A blaze that was allegedly set by a trio of people tossing papers into a campfire scorched about 1,700 acres today in the Angeles National Forest north of Glendora, destroying two homes and leaving at least one person injured with minor burns.

The so-called Colby Fire was reported around 5:50 a.m. near San Gabriel Canyon Road, fire officials said. Fueled by gusting winds and fed by exceedingly dry vegetation, the fire quickly exploded across hundreds of acres, torching at least two homes in its path, according to Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby....

Glendora police Chief Tim Staab said a resident called police shortly after the fire began and reported seeing at least two people near what was believed to be the origin of the blaze.

Officers responded to the scene and took three people into custody and later arrested. They were identified as Clifford Eugene Henry Jr., 22, of Glendora; Jonathan Carl Jarrell, 23, Irwindale; and Steven Robert Aguirre, 21, a transient last known to live in Los Angeles.

"Reportedly, they were up, they had set a campfire," Staab said. "They were tossing papers into the campfire and a breeze -- reportedly -- a breeze had kicked up and set this fire."

He said all three men, one of whom he described as "apologetic," were being held at the Glendora city jail on $20,000 bail on suspicion of recklessly starting a fire.

"They are being cooperative," Staab said. "I've been told by detectives that one has made an admission to our detectives and has admitted to setting this fire."

Staab said the area where the men were was not a camping area, but people are known to camp in the hills above Glendora.

"They told us they were camping out," he said. "There's no evidence to indicate they were living up there."...

Jim Hall of the U.S. Forest Service said at least 700 firefighters were on the scene, aided by eight air tankers and seven helicopters....

"Because of our preparation, we were able to save hundreds, if not thousands, of homes this morning," he said."

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