Suspect Arrested on 17 Counts of Arson in CA Wildfires

(Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)

(ABC News) — Authorities arrested a man on Monday suspected of starting numerous California wildfires, including one that has so far burned 4,000 acres and destroyed 175 homes.

Officers took 40-year-old Damin Anthony Pashilk into custody and charged him with 17 counts of arson in Northern California.

“Mr. Pashilk committed a horrific crime and we will seek prosecution to the fullest extent of the law,” Chief Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE director, said in a statement. “The residents of Lake County have experienced senseless loss and endured significant hardship over the past year.”

The Clayton Fire, which police suspect that Pashlik started, started just three days ago but has so far burned more than 4,000 acres and is just 5 percent contained. It has destroyed more than 175 structures, according to CAL Fire, and threatens an additional 1,500.

Containing the blaze has proven to be a costly effort during a time when the state is battling several significant wildfires. Firefighting personnel assigned to the Clayton Fire number more than 1,600, and they have employed 192 fire engines, 6 airtankers, and 12 helicopters, among other resources.

The Clayton wildfire “continued to burning aggressively through the night,” according to the latest CAL Fire update released on Monday.

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