Arson suspected in three tractors found burning

A Los Angeles County Fire Department truck moves quickly to scene.
A Los Angeles County Fire Department truck moves quickly to scene. Katharine Lotze/The Signal
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Arson investigators suspect a fire that destroyed earth-moving tractors near a construction site late last week may have been purposely set.

Firefighters responded to reports from Canyon Country residents Thursday night of a loud explosion and thick black smoke on the 17000 block of West Sierra Highway, Inspector Richard Licon of the Los Angeles County Fire Department said.

When firefighters arrived, they found three large tractors on fire.

“We did call in our arson unit – investigators one, three and eight,” Licon said.

Investigators with the Fire Department’s specialized unit immediately turned the case over, however, to their counterparts with the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Arson/Explosives Unit.

“We did handle that case,” LASD Det. K. Ponce told The Signal Tuesday, noting the two detectives assigned to the case – Sgt. D. Robinson and Det. Jay Yelick – were expected to resume their investigation Wednesday morning.

When firefighters first responded to the reports, they were primarily concerned about a possibility of a brush fire.

“This call was in a new construction area near Skyline Ridge,” Licon told The Signal Tuesday. “And, usually, the water mains are the first to go in but we don’t always have the key to open those (mains) on the street.

“So, we laid a line around the fire as if it was a brush fire,” he said.

The fire was first reported to the Fire Department shortly after 10 p.m. behind homes at in the 17000 block of West Sierra Highway.

Residents in the area reported hearing large explosions before the fire broke out, according to a reporter on the scene.

Fire officials dispatched a water-dumping helicopter shortly after 11 p.m. Thursday.

Firefighters worked for five hours to extinguish the flames on the tractors and equipment.

The fire was extinguished shortly before 3:45 a.m. Friday.


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