Three Men Charged in Federal Court for Starting Illegal Campfire in Angeles National Forest that Became Colby Fire
LOS ANGELES, California – Three men were charged this afternoon in United States District Court with illegally setting a campfire above Glendora that erupted in Santa Ana winds last week to become a destructive wildfire called the Colby Fire.
Federal prosecutors filed a criminal complaint that charges the three men with unlawfully setting timber afire, a felony offense that carries a possible five-year prison term.
The three men named in the criminal complaint are:
Clifford Eugene Henry Jr, 22, of Glendora;
Steven Robert Aguirre, 21, a transient; and
Jonathan Carl Jarrell, 24, also a transient.
The three men were taken into custody by local officials last Thursday after the fire started. Henry, Aguirre and Jarrell are expected to be turned over to federal authorities this afternoon. The defendants are expected to make their first appearance in federal court tomorrow, possibly as early as 11:00 a.m.
The Colby Fire started on the morning of January 16. By that evening, the fire had consumed more than 1,700 acres of federal, state, local and private lands. The fire had also destroyed five residences, damaged 17 additional structures, and resulted in injuries to one civilian and two firefighters.
Henry, Aguirre and Jarrell were detained by Glendora Police Officers after they were seen escaping the fire. During interviews with Glendora Police and personnel with the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Arson Investigations Unit, all three defendants admitted playing a role in the starting of a campfire that started the Colby Fire after wind blew burning paper into the brush in the hills above Glendora, according to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint.
A United States Forest Service fire investigator has determined that the origin of the Colby Fire was at a point near a fire ring built by Henry, Aguirre and Jarrell; the cause of the fire was embers from the campfire that set dry grass adjacent to the campfire ring afire; and both the campfire ring and the origin of the fire are clearly located on federal lands within the Angeles National Forest.
The investigation is being conducted by the United States Forest Service, the Glendora Police Department and the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
Release No. 14-007
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