Saturday, October 28, 2006

Cabazon Arson Fire

"That person watching today who committed this offense... we will not rest. We will find you. I can assure you of that -- you will be brought to justice"---Riverside County Undersheriff Neil Lingle

According to Fox TV News (10-28-06), California authorities are looking for a white van in connection with the huge wildfire in California.

The fire, now said to be arson, started in a dry riverbed called the San Gorgonio Wash at Esperanza Avenue in Cabizon, California, and quickly spread into the rugged San Jacinto Mountains west of Palm Springs, California. Here is a link to new stories about the Esperanza fire.

Four firemen were burned to death in a firestorm on Thursday, and one is in critical condition and not expected to survive. The authorities are calling these deaths "murder."

Fox TV News mentioned speculation that the fire might be the work of a serial arsonist.

Reuters (10-27-06) reports:

Officials have not said why they are treating the fire as arson and the deaths as murder. The Los Angeles Times on Friday quoted people as saying they had seen teenagers smoking marijuana around midnight Thursday near where the fire is thought to have started about 17 miles (27 km) northwest of Palm Springs.

Doctors said the prognosis for the injured fireman, named as Pablo Cerda, 23, was poor. Cerda has 90 percent burns, kidney failure and severe lung damage.

"His degree of burns is one of the most severe I have seen," Dr. David Wong, chief trauma specialist at the Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, told reporters.

The Los Angeles Times (10-27-06) reported that the fire was deliberately set on Thursday at about 1:12 a.m. in a riverbed called the San Gorgonio Wash.

In a 10-28-06 article, Los Angeles Times (10-28-06) reported that "at least two residents in the foothills along Esperanza Avenue in Cabazon saw two white men in their early 20s leaving the area — a popular hangout for teenagers and others — shortly before the fire was reported about 1 a.m. Thursday."

In an article about the Esperanza fire, CBS2 TV reported:

A joint investigation was under way, involving the FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the California Department of Forestry; the U.S. Forest Service and the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

Authorities are not releasing any details on the investigation, including any possible leads into who might have started the blaze, according to Riverside County Sheriff's Department spokesman Juan Zamora...

We're hunting these people with a vengeance, and we're going to find them," said Riverside County Supervisor Marion Ashley said. "If anybody has any information, call. ...Turn that scum in, please."

Riverside County Fire Department Chief John Hawkins said the arsonist was a murderer.

"Frankly, I'm mad as hell that someone would intentionally start a fire knowing full well that this is the kind of consequence," he said, "Our justice system will make people who do this kind of thing pay dearly."

Added Riverside County Undersheriff Neil Lingle: "That person watching today who committed this offense... we will not rest. We will find you. I can assure you of that -- you will be brought to justice." [Full Text]

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