SCV deputies arrest suspect in arson investigation

Firefighters contain a small brush fire in the riverbed near Railroad Avenue and 15th Street in Newhall on Friday Dan Watson/ The Signal

A Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputy on patrol over the weekend recognized and arrested a suspect sought for questioning in the ongoing investigation for an alleged arson in Newhall that was reported Friday. 

Firefighters quickly contained a small brush fire that reached a quarter-acre blaze in the wash, near Railroad Avenue and 15th Street, Fire Department spokesman Franklin Lopez said Friday. 

The incident was reported at 3:30 p.m., but firefighters stopped forward progress on the blaze about seven minutes later, after the fire had grown to about 2 acres.

SCV Sheriff’s Station officials confirmed the arson investigation shortly after the fire was extinguished, noting that multiple witnesses identified a woman seen leaving the scene of the blaze as a possible suspect in what’s believed to be a fire that was deliberately set.

Maria Herrera, 28, of Newhall, is being held at the SCV Sheriff’s Station on suspicion of arson, in lieu of $100,000 bail. No one was injured and no buildings were damaged in the blaze.

The investigating officer for Friday’s fire, Sgt. Bishop, said Herrera was recognized by deputies during a traffic stop Sunday morning from prior contact the officers had with the suspect. Herrera reportedly matched witness descriptions.

Herrera was sentenced in 2014 to three years in state prison for a no-contest plea to a robbery charge from 2012. In April 2019, she pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of presenting false identification to a police officer. In March, she pleaded no contest to a drug-possession charge, according to court records available online from the Los Angeles County Superior Court website. 

A case is expected to be presented in court Tuesday, Bishop said.

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