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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Central District of California

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Three Men Guilty Of Federal Felony Charges For Starting Illegal Campfire In Angeles National Forest That Became Colby Fire

LOS ANGELES – The third man involved in an illegal campfire above Glendora that erupted out of control to become the destructive Colby Fire was found guilty this afternoon of federal criminal charges.

Jonathan Carl Jarrell, 24, was found guilty of a felony offense of unlawfully setting timber afire. After a three-day trial, a jury also convicted Jarrell of a misdemeanor offense of illegally starting a fire. (The jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on two other misdemeanor fire-related charges.)

Two other defendants – Clifford Eugene Henry Jr, 22, of Glendora, and Steven Robert Aguirre, 21 – were each found guilty last Friday of four charges (one felony and three misdemeanors) related to the fire.

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 – interviews that the jury heard during the two trials – 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.

A United States Forest Service fire investigator determined that the origin of the Colby Fire was at a point near a fire ring built by the three men at a location on federal lands within the Angeles National Forest.

As a result of today’s guilty verdicts, Jarrell faces up to 5½ year in federal prison when he is sentenced by United States District Judge George H. Wu on July 31.

Henry and Aguirre are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Wu on August 4. They each face a statutory maximum penalty of 6½ years in prison.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the United States Forest Service, the Glendora Police Department and the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Release No. 14-065

Updated June 22, 2015