Raymond Lee Oyler once tried to volunteer with a local fire department. He’s a mechanic and a father, with tattoos of flames and skulls on his arms and braces on his teeth. On Thursday, an anxious and tearful Oyler — jailed as a suspect in two arson fires — maintained in a jail interview with the Riverside Press-Enterprise that he did not start those fires or last week’s California wildfire that killed five U.S. Forest Service firefighters.
“I haven’t done anything with any fires,” Oyler, 36, said, talking from a visiting area of the seventh floor of the jail in downtown Riverside. He spoke slowly into a telephone, staring intently at a visitor from behind thick glass. “Fires hurt people.” Authorities say they have a strong case against Oyler, although arson experts caution that the crime can be particularly difficult to prove.