A man was arrested and charged with arson on Monday 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 during a community meeting at a casino serving as an evacuation centre for some of the 4 000 people driven from their homes by the “Clayton Fire”.
His announcement was greeted with cheers and applause. State firefighting agency Cal Fire said Pashilk was suspected of setting “numerous fires” in Lake County over the past year. “Pashilk committed a horrific crime and we will seek prosecution to the fullest extent of the law,” Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott said.
More than 175 homes and businesses have been destroyed since the fire broke out on Saturday. In the area where the fire had been contained, homes had been burned to the ground, with only their brick chimneys still standing. Cars were reduced to blackened hulls.