Arson charges laid over wildfires
A MAN was arrested and charged with arson for starting a massive wildfire in northern California that has destroyed 175 buildings and forced thousands to flee to safety.
Damin Anthony Pashilk, 40, faces 17 counts of arson, Lake County Sheriff Brian Martin said on August 15 during a community meeting at a casino that is serving as an evacuation centre for some of the 4000 people driven from their homes by the so-called Clayton Fire.
His announcement was greeted with cheers and applause.
State firefighting agency Cal Fire said Mr Pashilk was suspected of setting “numerous fires” in Lake County over the past year.
“The residents of Lake County have experienced senseless loss and endured significant hardship over the past year,” Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott said in a statement.
“Mr Pashilk committed a horrific crime and we will seek prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.”
As of August 15, the Clayton Fire was burning through 1620 hectares, with 1664 personnel fighting the blaze, Cal Fire said.
Only 5 percent of the blaze, located more than 160 kilometres (100 miles) from San Francisco, has been contained.
More than 175 homes and businesses have been destroyed since the fire broke out about 5pm on August 13.
In the area where the fire had been contained, homes had been burned to the ground, with only their brick chimneys still standing. –