Man arrested for starting the Clayton Fire and numerous others

(Originally published at 8:55 p.m. PDT August 15, 2016. Updated at 7:46 a.m. PDT August 16 with a list of charges against him and an updated mug shot.)

Damin Anthony Pashilk
Damin Anthony Pashilk

A man has been arrested for starting the Clayton Fire and numerous others.

Below is an excerpt from an article in The San Francisco Chronicle:

County officials arrested a 40-year-old Clear Lake man Monday on 17 counts of arson related to numerous fires set over the last year, including the 4,000-acre Clayton Fire that has so far claimed 175 buildings and displaced hundreds of people.

Lake County Sheriff Brian Martin and Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott announced the arrest of Damin Pashilk at a community meeting packed with evacuees at a casino doubling as a Red Cross shelter south of the blaze. Residents gasped at the announcement.

Chief Pimlott said Mr. Pashilk had been under investigation for about a year. The charges were enhanced because homes and businesses were destroyed. He has been arrested at least a dozen times before mostly for parole violations, but also on drug and weapons charges.

He was arrested at 4:30 p.m. on August 15 and booked into jail at 12:58 am. August 16. For now he has been charged with:

  1. Arson: structure/forest land
  2. Arson sentence enhancement
  3. Aggravated arson with prior

The sentence enhancement is applicable if homes or businesses were destroyed.

Brian Hickey of KCRA News reports that “aggravated arson with prior” means he has been convicted of arson in the last 10 years.

Bail has been set at $5 million.

The Clayton Fire started Saturday evening and around mid-day on Sunday changed direction after the wind shifted and spread quickly into Lower Lake, California.

180-degree wind shift pushed Clayton Fire into Lower Lake

weather Clayton Fire
Weather observations at the Konocti weather station just west of Lower Lake, California, from about 8 a.m. on Sunday until 8 a.m. Monday.

The Clayton Fire that burned hundreds of structures in and near Lower Lake, California 31 air miles northeast of Santa Rosa, was rather benign Sunday morning, and some thought firefighters had a handle on it. But later in the day the wind increased and pushed it into the community, spreading much more quickly than firefighters expected or could keep up with.

We checked the weather conditions recorded at the Konocti weather station west of Lower Lake and found that the wind direction shifted by about 180 degrees at mid-day. Before noon there was a north to northeast wind at 0 to 6 mph blowing the fire away from Lower Lake. That changed very suddenly at around noon when the wind became out of the southwest and west at 12 to 14 mph with gusts of 19 to 24 mph. This pushed the fire into the community. The firefighters and other resources that were on hand were not able to keep up with the fire or protect every structure in the town.

At about the same time, the temperature went up to over 90 degrees and the relative humidity dropped from about 30 percent to around 18 percent, and may have briefly hit 8 percent.

Of all of the weather features that affect the behavior of a wildfire, a strong wind can override them all to a degree and control the direction of spread. Topography and fuels (vegetation) also help determine how a fire will spread, but if conditions are dry, wind is the ingredient that firefighters most respect.

Land managers and homeowners can control one of the three factors that determine fire behavior — fuel. It can be removed within 100 feet of structures. Large scale fuel reduction projects in the areas near communities can affect the intensity of a fire when it approaches structures, giving firefighters a chance to save them. But the other two factors, topography and weather, are out of their hands.

Weather forecast for the Clayton Fire area
Weather forecast for the Clayton Fire area, Aug 15, 2016. NWS. Click to enlarge.

The weather forecast for the area of the Clayton Fire predicts clear skies for Monday, a high of 97 degrees, 14 percent relative humidity, and southeast to east winds of 5 to 10 mph. Tuesday will be about the same but with very variable winds blowing from virtually all directions during the day.

Our main article about the Clayton Fire.

 

Clayton Fire burns more than 175 structures near Lower Lake, California

The fire is burning near the scars from three very large fires from 2015

(UPDATED at 7:35 p.m. PDT August 16, 2016)

The Clayton Fire grew by 67 acres on Monday, but it was on the northeast side near the footprint of last year’s Rocky Fire.  This brings the size of the burned area up to 3,945 acres.

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(UPDATED at 8:40 p.m. PDT August 15, 2016)

CAL FIRE is now reporting that the size of the Clayton Fire at Lower Lake, California is estimated at 4,000 acres. There has been no change in the number of structures burned.

A man has been arrested for starting the Clayton Fire and numerous others. Below is an excerpt from an article in The San Francisco Chronicle:

County officials arrested a 40-year-old Clear Lake man Monday on 17 counts of arson related to numerous fires set over the last year, including the 4,000-acre Clayton Fire that has so far claimed 175 buildings and displaced hundreds of people.

Lake County Sheriff Brian Martin and Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott announced the arrest of Damin Pashilk at a community meeting packed with evacuees at a casino doubling as a Red Cross shelter south of the blaze. Residents gasped at the announcement.

“All 17 counts resulted from a very extensive investigation of numerous fire starts over the last year,” Pimlott said.

****

(UPDATED at 9:03 a.m. PDT August 15, 2016)

CAL FIRE public information officer Daniel Berlant reported at 9 a.m. on Monday that the Clayton Fire has burned approximately 175 structures.

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(UPDATED at 7:33 a.m. PDT August 15, 2016)

The Clayton Fire burned into the community of Lower Lake, California Sunday afternoon preceded by spot fires started from the burning embers the wind threw out ahead of the blaze igniting many homes and businesses.

At 6:45 a.m. on Monday CAL FIRE estimated that “100+” structures and 3,000 acres have burned.

The fire started Saturday and had died down Sunday morning, but strong erratic winds developed that pushed the fire very rapidly to the north into Lower Lake.

The fire occurred in an area that experienced three large fires in 2015, the Valley, Rocky, and Jerusalem Fires which together burned approximately 159,000 acres.

The Twitter images below are from Sunday afternoon.

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Originally published at 8:32 p.m. PDT August 14, 2016 Updated at 10:06 p.m. PDT August 14.).

CAL FIRE reports that as of 8 p.m. on Sunday the Clayton Fire has burned 10 structures, including at least 4 residences, near Lower Lake, California, just southeast of Clearlake and 31 air miles northeast of Santa Rosa.

Based on reports from other sources, the actual number of structures destroyed is likely to rise.

After the fire started at 6 p.m. on Saturday, August 13, it burned aggressively north, crossing Morgan Valley Road and Cache Creek, impacting the communities of Lower Lake and Clearlake. St. Helena Hospital in Clearlake has been evacuated. Additional structures are threatened and mandatory evacuations are in place.

Continue reading “Clayton Fire burns more than 175 structures near Lower Lake, California”