According to the reports of concerned authorities, the arson suspect of California’s palisade fire has been arrested and is under investigation. The fire that started in the Santa Monica mountains located in Los Angeles County has spread to around 1,325 acres. A mandatory evacuation of almost 1000 people is underway because the raging fire with zero percent containment might damage the nearby areas’ residencies.
So far, there are no reports of sufferers or deaths caused by the fire. Earlier, a suspect was arrested and detained for investigation, but later, he was released due to a lack of evidence. Now a second arrest has been made, and according to the Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas, the investigation is going in the right direction. The second suspect seems to be the culprit responsible for starting the fire, said Ralph Terrazas.
At a news briefing, the Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said it is challenging for them to deal with this raging fire. There was not a single fire incident in this area in 75 years. The blazes are spreading very rapidly because some of the brushes are 6 to 9 meters high.
About 540 firefighters are making an effort to control the blazes from the air as well as on the ground. The fire fueled by dehydrated and dried-out trees might engulf around 500 homes in the nearby territories. Some remote areas that the firefighters cannot reach are being targeted by helicopters and air tankers. Low clouds halted the process of dropping water and fire retardants by air tankers for a while, said Terrazas.
Al Ward, the LAFD Battalion Chief, said in a news conference that they are very focused on controlling the fire, but right now, they are making efforts to contain the northeast flank of the fire. It is important because if the blazes somehow manage to cross the road, then it would be disastrous for the nearby populated area of Topanga Canyon.
When the fire first broke out, it was contained by the fire department immediately within 100 acres, but the sudden intense rush of wind from the south-southwest caused the outburst of fire. Ward further said that the gusts of 15-25 mph lead to an unfortunate spread of fire engulfing about 750 acres in just an hour.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department, the suspected arsonist Ramon Santos Rodriguez is 48 years old. He was seen igniting the fire in the Santa Monica Mountains of Los Angeles County by the Los Angeles Police department helicopter crew. Immediately, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Air Rescue 5 team did try to find the suspect using a helicopter, but the intensity of the flames was increasing, so they had to stop. Later on, the arson suspect was searched by a team of police in the Topanga area.
Rodriguez has been identified as a homeless man. The police caught him in the same spot where the fire started after he came out from some burned bushes. The authorities informed that he was first taken to a nearby hospital for treatment because he was suffering from smoke inhalation.
As told by the Los Angeles Fire Department Arson Counterterrorism Section, the arson made use of an incendiary device to start the fire. The Los Angeles Fire Department released the statement that they have interviewed the police officers, eyewitnesses, firefighters and analyzed the whole situation for hours. They further added that the arson investigators have come to the conclusion that the fire was started by violating the California Penal Code Arson of Forest Land.
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