Category Archives:Fire

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Three Men Arrested In Connection With Colby Wildfire

Three men have been arrested for allegedly setting a brush fire that burned over 1,700 acres in the foothills above Glendora, Thursday. The men claimed they were sitting around a camp fire in the foothills when a breeze kicked up, starting the fire, now dubbed the Colby Fire.

Glendora police took three men into custody and booked them for recklessly starting the Colby Fire. They have been identified as Clifford Eugene Henry, Jr., 22, of Glendora; Jonathan Carl Jarrell, 23, of Irwindale; and Steven Robert Aguirre, 21, homeless of the Los Angeles area.

The trio were allegedly tossing papers into the campfire and allege that a gust of wind fueled the small campfire into a monstorous blaze.

The three men initially denied their involvement. However, two of the men were seen running away from the mountains when first responders arrived, and a third man was taken off the mountain by the U.S. Forest Service.

Police found marijuana and cigarettes in the backpacks of two of the men. Jarrell and Aguirre had no prior convictions in Los Angeles, Orange or San Bernardino counties, according to online court records. However, Henry pled no contest on Oct. 10, 2013 to a misdemeanor count of lewd conduct in public and was sentenced to 36 months probation, eight days in county jail and ordered to attend Alcoholics Anonymous for a year, according to Frank Mateljan, spokesman for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office.

Their bail is currently set at $500,000 for each man, raised from the initial $20,000 due to the seriousness of their crime, the cost of property damage, and the resources consumed during the fire battle. The fire, which erupted in dry and windy conditions, destroyed five homes and forced thousands of residents to evacuate.

The men will face federal charges when they make their first court appearance Tuesday as the fire was started on federal land.

If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to fight your charges and reduce your fines. A DUI or criminal conviction can be costly, you can lose your license, lose your transportation, and will have to pay hefty fines. Don Ho, an established criminal defense attorney, will fight the charges on your behalf.

Published by Don Ho LawDon Ho is an experienced criminal defense attorney who serves Riverside, San Bernardino, and Orange Counties. 
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Suspect Arrested in L.A. Arson Rampage

Harry Burkhart was arrested on Monday in connection with a four-night arson rampage that have caused millions of dollars of property damage in the Los Angeles area.
Nightly Car BonfireImage by strangnet via Flickr

The suspected arsonist is believed to be connected with at least 53 fires that have been reported since Thursday, December 29.  Eleven fires were reported on the morning of Monday, January 2 alone, and the majority of them were started in the city of Los Angeles.  Officials say the fires caused at least $3 million in damage to vehicles and structures, and the city spent considerable money shifting officers into the area to capture the arsonist. 

A deputy reserve sheriff made the initial traffic stop that led to the arrest of the suspect.  Materials that could have been used to set fires were found by detectives inside the suspect’s minivan.  “I feel very good that we’ve got the right guy,” said Police Chief Charlie Beck.” (The suspect) had the right stuff in his van, and we are very confident we found our man.” 
According to police information, Burkhart was a 24-year-old German national who carried travel papers from Chechnya.  He had spent time in Germany but had lived in Southern California for the last several years.  While the investigation remains ongoing, reports have surfaced that Burkhart may have been upset over his mother’s potential deportation. 
Burkhart was originally scheduled to be arraigned in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Wednesday afternoon, but the arraignment was postponed until January 24.  Burkhart’s bail was set at $2.85 million and he was ordered to surrender his passport.  Until a suspect is formally charged, Los Angeles residents have been warned to keep a closer watch on their own and their neighbor’s property, and to report any suspicious activity to police. 
Under California law, arson can be considered a felony that carries severe punishments depending on the damage caused.  Although, no one has been hurt by the fires, there has been widespread damage to vehicles and structures, and Burkhart was booked on suspicion of arson of an inhabited dwelling.
Below is an example of the types of penalties and punishment you may face if you are convicted under California’s arson laws.
Misdemeanor reckless burning  (Penal Code 452 PC)
  • Informal  probation
  • Up to one year in a county jail, and/or 
  • A fine of up to $1,000.
Felony arson or reckless burning (under either Penal Code 451 or 452 PC)
  • 16 months to nine years in the California State Prison (16 months to three years in the state prison if convicted of attempted arson)
  • Up to $50,000 in fines, or twice the amount of an actual or anticipated gain (if the prosecutor proves that you set the fire for financial gain), and 
  • A possible strike on your criminal record under California’s Three Strikes Law. (This penalty only applies if you are convicted of malicious arson under Penal Code 451 PC
Aggravated arson (California Penal Code 452.1)
“Aggravated” instances of arson will be punished even more severely than “typical” felony arson charges.  You face an additional and consecutive sentence of one to five years in the California State Prison if any of the following circumstances exist:
  • You have a prior felony conviction for malicious or reckless arson under either Penal Code 451 or 452 PC,
  • A firefighter, officer, or other emergency personnel suffers great bodily injury (defined as a significant or substantial physical injury) as a result of the offense, (for a more detailed discussion, visit our page on the legal definition of great bodily injury)
  • You caused multiple structures to burn, or
  • In the commission of the offense, you used a device to accelerate the fire or to delay ignition.
Because the punishment and penalties are so severe for an arson conviction, it is critical to secure legal representation from a skilled California criminal defense lawyer.  He or she understands the many defenses that may cause arson or reckless burning charges to be reduced or even dismissed.  If you’re facing arson charges or any other serious criminal offense, contact the Orange County Criminal Law firm of Don Ho, LLP immediately for assistance on building your defense.
All factual information taken from the Los Angeles Times

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