Law enforcement authorities suspect most of the 10 fires that have caused one of California’s largest and costliest disasters probably were started by thrill-seeking arsonists, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.
“All these fires may be arsons,” said Chip Patterson, spokesman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. “We know that arson has already killed four people in our county. I think it’s a strong possibility that the others are arson as well.”
In San Bernardino, witnesses told authorities that they had seen two men start the Old Fire on Saturday. Eight of the other nine fires are assumed to be arson until it can be proved otherwise.
Andrea E. Tuttle, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said that her agency had not ruled out arson in any of the 10 fires that together have scorched more than a half-million acres and caused at least 16 deaths.
At the same time that thousands of firefighters were still trying to contain the blazes, arson investigators were already going through the ashes to try to determine the cause of the fires. They were seeking footprints, fingerprints, evidence of flammable liquid — anything to focus the case on arson.