What We Know About The Men Who Allegedly Started The Colby Fire
As the Colby Fire continues to burn in the mountains above Glendora and Azusa, there has been increasing scrutiny on the campers who allegedly started the blaze.
Jonathan Jarrell, Clifford Henry and Steven Aguirre were arrested shortly after the fire started yesterday morning. The trio set off into the hills for an impromptu camping trip, as evidenced by Jarrell's Facebook post from the night before:
Sometime during the camping trip, they got cold and built a makeshift campfire near the corner of Colby Trail and Glendora Mountain Road, the Los Angeles Times reports. That particular area of the mountains is not a designated campground, but Glendora Police Chief Tim Staab confirmed during yesterday's press conference that it has been used as a campground in the past. Setting up camp in the Angeles National Forest is generally okay, but lighting a campfire without getting a permit is definitely illegal, KCET reports.
Authorities said the trio lit pieces of paper, and threw them into the fire as kindling. Strong wind gusts sent embers flying into the air, eventually landing in some brush, starting the blaze, Staab said.
"They just didn't show very much common sense this morning in starting this camp fire," Staab said to the Times. "Especially when it's breezy out? Especially when it's the driest season on record? Please."
Two of the suspects were observed "walking suspiciously away" from the mountains and were arrested after police questioned them. A third suspect was found by the U.S Forest Service and taken down the mountain, ABC 7 reports. Cigarettes and marijuana were found in two of the men's backpacks.
All three have been charged with "unlawfully causing timber to burn" and their bail has been set at $500,000 each—up from the initial $20,000 due to the severity of the fire and the amount of damage it has cost so far. Since the fire technically sparked on federal land, the trio will be facing federal charges.
"We worked cooperatively with the U.S. Attorney's Office and ultimately decided that the case was best filed by their office since the fire began on federal land," Deputy District Attorney Sean Carney said in a statement obtained by ABC 7.
Meanwhile, the fire continues to rage on, with containment at 30 percent so far. The men were reportedly apologetic about the whole thing.