Station Fire was arson

At 6 pm tonight, the LA Times is reporting that the Station Fire was caused by an act of arson. Ken left a comment in my last post alerting me to this report. Thanks, Ken. The LA Times reports:

September 3, 2009 | 5:53 pm

The Station fire has been classified as an arson fire, and authorities have launched a homicide investigation.

The massive blaze, which killed two firefighters, has been under investigation for days, with the focus being on a road turnout along Angeles Crest Highway north of La Cañada Flintridge.

“Forensic examination has led this team effort to conclude … that it was an act of arson,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Steve Whitmore.

The Station fire, which has burned about 144,000 acres of the Angeles National Forest, is the largest fire in L.A. County history. Two firefighters died Sunday during a rescue effort, when their vehicle plunged down a mountain.

On Wednesday, investigators hunched under a scorched, 20-foot-tall oak tree off Angeles Crest Highway, using wire mesh sifters to search through the ash in an attempt to determine whether the Station fire was deliberately set.

Near Mile Marker 29, authorities were treating the fire’s suspected ignition site as a crime scene. Yellow tape cordoned off the area and authorities blocked the highway, turning away even Caltrans workers and earthmovers. Members of the bomb squad also arrived at the scene but officials declined to say what their role was in the probe.

“We believe it is the point of origin,” Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Mike McCormick said Wednesday. “They are doing a finely detailed, serious, serious search and investigation. We lost two firefighters in this.”

I was hoping for an accidental start, not arson. It is such a difficult crime for me to understand, frankly, and I’ve dealt with them all in my career as a criminal defense attorney. Only once did I have to defend someone who purposefully started a fire, and in that case, my client set fire to a cat. Pretty horrific and difficult to understand then, too.

7 thoughts on “Station Fire was arson

  1. My opinion arson=murder. two firefighters lost their lives trying to save their crews, another seriously injured, dozens lose homes, pets and livelihoods. Wildlife and nature destroyed needlessly.
    One firefighter I know says that when a con crew captain is lost, there is retribution inside.
    I am glad that you get so worked up over the ya-hoos for sure.

  2. Big Sur had an arsonist in the 70’s. Every few days he would set a fire by the highway at the Hill Ranch. He was observed and caught and he turned out to be a local BS fireman.

  3. I will say that is what is great about having an all volunteer fire agency. We are from the community, for the community with no financial benefit from responding. I know that each member looks out for their neighbors, ready to sacrifice from their jobs and families for the overall good.

  4. And, of course, we on the South Coast will long remember the Wild Fire of 1996, set by arsonist Jeff Avila, a contractor for the USFS, whose father, Sammy Avila had the grazing rights up here for years.

    What I will never forget, but hopefully one day forgive, is that during the fire Jeff Avila stopped by my home, when the ex was gone (they had been friends) and came in and shared a cup of coffee with me, talking about the fire. I welcomed him as I would anyone who was fighting the fire in any capacity. Later, I just could not believe that he could sit at my table, pretending to care about my friends who lost their homes, when he was responsible.

    I met an old public defender friend for lunch, today. She has represented arsonists. The one thing that sticks out about them is that in a profession where many of our clients stand out for being crazy, arsonists top the list.

  5. Its true, you people at BSVFB do an excellent job. Before the brigade there was a fire watch above Capt. Cooper, a phone booth type affair, with room for a chair and equipped with a phone. I don’t remember who funded it, probably the state. My brother Lincoln was an enthusiastic volunteer, (teenagers!) Micah also, and I think a couple of their friends. You all have come a long way! I’m sure the appreciation is beyond measure for all you do.

  6. I swear if they catch the person/persons that started that fire I hope he/they get full justice! Or perhaps get hung up by the cajones over an open fire pit?

    I’m sorry but knowing it was arson just burns me up. (pardon the pun)

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