Suspects arraigned for starting Eagle fire

Two men have been arrested and arraigned for starting the Eagle fire that burned 14,100 acres in northeastern San Diego County in southern California. Here is an excerpt from an article in the North County Times:

Less than an hour after finding a guard shack burned to the ground in the middle of a wildfire that would soon grow to 22 square miles, firefighters found a sport utility vehicle stuck in the road. Inside the truck, they found Keystone beer cans, a gas can and a lighter, according to court documents.

The truck was registered to the father of Jeremy Ortiz, one of two men who on Friday pleaded not guilty to aggravated arson, court documents state. Jeremy Ortiz and friend Jesse Durbin are accused of starting the Eagle fire on July 21.

Ortiz, 23, a member of the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla Indians, was arrested Thursday in a joint law enforcement operation on charges of aggravated arson and forest land arson, authorities said.

Durbin, 23 and also a tribal member, was already in the Vista jail on a vehicle theft charge when he was arrested in connection with setting the large fire. No one was injured in the blaze.

The two men were in a Vista courtroom Friday, where they pleaded not guilty to charges related to the blaze. They are each being held in lieu of $2 million bail.

If convicted of aggravated arson, each faces 10 years to life in prison, Deputy District Attorney Terri Perez said.

When the fire grew out of control and homes were threatened, Ortiz’s family home was among the first to be evacuated, according to court documents.


Thanks go out to Eric

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.