A California man accused of starting the ferocious wildfire that has destroyed more than 175 buildings and has forced hundreds to flee the smoldering acreage has been arrested on arson charges.
Damin Pashilk, 40, faces 17 counts of arson over the so-called Clayton Fire, in the foothill community of Lower Lake, and other fires nearby over the past year, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Monday.
“Mr. Pashilk committed a horrific crime and we will seek prosecution to the fullest extent of the law,” Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott said in a statement.
The Clayton Fire, burning about 80 miles north of San Francisco, broke out Saturday night. Since then, it has burned more than 4,000 acres, destroyed more than 175 homes and businesses and prompted hundreds of people to evacuate the area.
Damin Pashilk was arrested Monday on arson charges.
However, there are no reports of casualties.
By late Monday, the blaze was about 5% contained by the more than 16,000 firefighters dispatched to the area, officials said.
On Monday afternoon, California Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, declared states of emergency for the Clayton fire and another in San Luis Obispo County, the so-called Chimney fire.
Firefighters work to contain embers on the remains of a house destroyed by the Clayton Fire in Lower Lake, Calif.
(GABRIELLE LURIE/AFP/Getty Images)
The Chimney fire was just 10% contained by Monday evening. It had scorched more than 5,400 acres (2,185 hectares) in less than 48 hours after erupting on Saturday afternoon, destroying a dozen structures and threatening about 200 more, with hundreds of residents being told to evacuate.
The blazes are the latest for parched California, which has been in constant danger of wildfire amid treacherous drought conditions.
With News Wire Services