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Thread: Arrests Made in Malibu Fire
12-14-07, 12:41 AM #1
Arrests Made in Malibu Fire
Strong detective work leads to five suspects in Malibu fire
By Thomas Watkins
5:46 p.m. December 13, 2007
LOS ANGELES Precut fire logs and discarded food wrappers were among the clues that led investigators to those responsible for last month's devastating Malibu wildfire, officials said Thursday while announcing arrest warrants for five young men.
Sheriff Lee Baca said a winding investigation took detectives to as far as the Oregon border, to a grocery store and to debit card records. The result: Tracking down the men who authorities believe set an illegal campfire at the Malibu cave where the wildfire started.
Baca said the men, all from the Los Angeles area, were suspected of recklessly causing a fire with bodily injury, causing fire to an inhabited structure and arson during an emergency. Each charge carried two to four years of prison time if convicted.
As adults we have always taught our children to be aware of the perils of fire, Baca said during a news conference. In this case adults and fire and carelessness ... are things that led to this crime.
County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said campfires in the area were prohibited.
It is illegal to set fires in the cave above Corral Canyon under any circumstances. Whether there's a Santa Ana wind condition or not, it's illegal, said Yaroslavsky. It is reckless, on top of the illegality, to set a fire anywhere in the mountains when there is a Santa Ana wind condition as there was the night this fire broke out.
Baca identified the men as Brian Allen Anderson, 22; William Thomas Coppock, 23; Brian David Franks, 27; Eric Matthew Ullman, 18; and 19-year-old Dean Allen Lavorante.
Three were in custody Thursday evening, Los Angeles County sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said, with the other two arrests imminent.
Baca said investigators went through security tape and receipts at a local Ralphs market, eventually learning the identity of those believed to be responsible by checking a debit card number.
Investigators then traveled up to Shasta County near the Oregon border to speak to witnesses. No one from that county was charged, officials said.
Whitmore said arson investigators found several pieces of evidence that indicated revelers had triggered the blaze by setting a campfire at a popular party spot by a cave in Corral Canyon, which abuts Malibu Creek State Park.
The graffiti-covered cave is located off a service road overlooking the rolling hills of Malibu that lead down into the Pacific Ocean.
Arson detective Irma Gonzales said a group of 12 people had been partying at the cave. She did not comment on how the blaze spread from the campfire, but said the group did not try to fight it, nor did they try to warn residents as they fled from the flames.
They just drove off, Gonzales said.
The fire destroyed 55 homes, 35 other structures and burned over 4,900 acres in the Corral Canyon area, officials said.
The total cost of the fire was estimated at $100 million. Six firefighters were injured.Molly Weasley makes Chuck Norris eat his vegetables.
Do not puff, shade, skew, tailor, firm up, stretch, massage,
or otherwise distort statements of fact.FBI Special Agent Coleen Rowley
12-14-07, 04:19 AM #2
I was watching that tonight on the news. HOW could anyone just walk away and not report a fire out of control????????
I heard today that Marie Osmond lost her house in the fire...and everything in it. She had no time to save anything.
Wanted to add that it was AWESOME detective work hunting these guys down. I am in awe.**********************
"I used to care
but now I take a pill for that"
12-14-07, 05:43 AM #3
people just dont care or think about what might happendispatcher
12-14-07, 06:29 AM #4
they just figured they would never get caught so why step up and do something about it
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