Man arrested on 17 counts of arson in CA wildfires

LAKE COUNTY (KRON) — Cal Fire said a suspect is facing 17 charges of arson for starting the Clayton Fire that has destroyed nearly 200 structures and charred 4,000 acres.

The man arrested for allegedly starting the blaze that destroyed dozens of homes in Lake County is 40-year-old Damin Pashilk of Clearlake.

Lake County Sheriff Brian Martin said the suspect is in jail. He is suspected in numerous fires in Lake County over the past year.

Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott says the blaze has caused over $10 million in damages and left dozens of families homeless.

“The residents of Lake County have experienced senseless loss and endured significant hardship over the past year,” Pimlott said. “Mr. Pashilk committed a horrific crime and we will seek prosecution to the fullest extent of the law. My thoughts continue to be with the people of Lake County during this difficult time.”

Officials made the announcement at a news conference but didn’t take questions or give any other details on Pashilk.

The wind-whipped had spread to more than six square miles in the Lower Lake area about 90 miles north of San Francisco.

It was just 5 percent contained, though late in the day fire officials said no other structures were under direct threat.

Weather conditions bedeviled firefighters Monday and the forecast called for temperatures to reach the upper 90s in coming days, with no rain in sight. A heat wave and gusty winds also put Southern California on high fire alert.

Underlying it all is a five-year drought that has sapped vegetation of moisture.

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