UPDATE: Homeless man accused of setting a fire then taking a nap

A helicopter drops water on a 10-acre fire in Castaic on Saturday. Samie Gebers/The Signal

A homeless man, twice convicted of arson, has been arrested on suspicion of arson for allegedly setting trash on fire then laying down to take a nap on a bus bench.

The 26-year-old man, described as a transient by deputies of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, was arrested about 10 p.m. Friday after receiving reports he had lit a fire on Ridge Route Road at Castaic Road.

Ryan Omar Rodrigues was arrested on suspicion of Arson of structure or forest land.

“The suspect took a bunch of trash and some papers on the sidewalk and lit them on fire,” Shirley Miller, spokeswoman for the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station told The Signal Monday.

“Then he walked over to a bus bench and fell asleep,”  she said.

Los Angeles County Firefighters were dispatched about 9:30 p.m. to a report of fire on Ridge Route Road near Castaic Road.

Detective Greg Everett of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Arson/Explosives Detail who investigated the incident said that while no damage was done, the risk was serious.

Rodrigues was twice convicted of Arson, he told The Signal Monday.

“In this case, he stacked a bunch of leaves right next to some brush,” Everett said. “Then he was observed by passing motorists who called the sheriff.

“This was kind of serious because of all the dry vegetation,” Everett said, noting the importance of witnesses calling the authorities immediately.

“If that possibly would have ignited the brush, it could have turned into a big fire,” he said.

Rodrigues remains in custody with bail set at $75,000.

About 17 hours later, firefighters were called back to Castaic for a second unrelated brush fire which broke out shortly after 3:35 p.m. in Marple Canyon, between the northbound and southbound lanes of Interstate 5.

Officials with the Los Angeles County Fire Department labelled it the Five Fire.

Although there were no complications in battling the fire, Fire Department Inspector Gustavo Medina told The Signal Monday, firefighters struggled to keep the fire from spreading.

“Additional resources were called in,” Medina said. “Because their goal was to keep it in that area and prevent it jumping the freeway.”

Four firefighters were treated for minor injuries at the hospital, three of them for heat-related problems, Medina said.

The fire was officially “knocked down” about 6 p.m. Saturday when no active flames were seen.

And, although the fire was extinguished, a strike team was called to the scene Saturday to ensure that there are no flare-ups, according to a firefighter with the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

By noon Sunday, the Five Fire was listed as 95 percent contained.

Rodrigues remains in custody with bail set at $75,000.

He was scheduled to appear in San Fernando Superior Court Saturday.

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