ARSON: Man arrested on suspicion of starting 103-acre fire in Banning

An arson suspect investigators say may have started a wildland fire that burned over 100 acres Thursday night in southern California has been arrested; 45-year-old Andre Cox was taken into custody just after midnight in Highlands Springs in Banning. Cal Fire said investigators determined the fire was arson-caused.

The suspect will be charged with multiple counts of arson, along with possession of methamphetamine. He is being held on $60,000 bail.

He hasn’t been officially charged by the District Attorney’s office, according to a report by KESQ-TV, but is expected to be arraigned in court on Tuesday.

The Sunset Fire was reported at around 6:50 p.m. on Mesa Street and Gilman Street, and it was burning at a dangerous rate of spread; firefighters were able to contain the fire the next day.

The Desert Sun reported that Cal Fire did not say specifically how Cox is accused of setting the fire. He was arrested on suspicion of two felony counts, arson to forest land and arson during a declared emergency, and two misdemeanor drug counts, possession of meth and drug paraphernalia.

The fire started Thursday on the north side of Banning; by noon Friday, it was 103 acres and 90 percent contained. It did not reach any structures.

Anyone with information related to this incident should contact the Cal  Fire/Riverside County Fire Department’s arson hotline at (800)633-2836.