Deputies detain arson suspect in connection to river fires

An LA County Fire Helicopter drops water on a three-acre fire in the Santa Clara River Wednesday evening. Dan Watson / The Signal.

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies arrested a homeless man they believe started a series of spot fires in the Santa Clara River bed Wednesday night, creating a plume of smoke over the center of Santa Clarita. 

The Los Angeles County Fire Department responded with a full brush fire assignment just before 7 p.m., according to Imy McBride, a department supervisor. The incident was dubbed the River Fire by officials. 

Los Angeles County Fire Equipment lines up along Valencia Boulevard. Dan Watson / The Signal.

A little after 8 p.m. the fire, in the wash just east of the intersection of Bouquet Canyon Road and Soledad Canyon Road, had grown to 3 acres.  

Not long after deputies arrived on the scene, they witnessed four or five spot fires, which are currently under investigation, according to Sheriff’s Station Capt. Justin Diez, who was on the scene of the incident where deputies had set up a containment.

As part of their search for additional suspects, sheriff’s deputies set up a containment area near Newhall Ranch Road and Bouquet Canyon Road, including the wash on both sides of Bouquet Canyon Road. 

“Ultimately, (the deputies) were flagged down by good Samaritans who pointed out the suspect,” Diez said. “He is being detained pending a further arson investigation.” The department’s Arson Explosives Detail would handle the investigation, he added.  

“They’re actively still investigating to determine if (the suspect) is involved in any kind of arson,” according to Sgt. Adam Stoll with the SCV Sheriff’s Station. Deputies were actively searching for any additional suspects and working with the L.A. County Fire Department to determine the cause of the fire. 

The containment area extended to the William S. Hart PONY baseball fields down to McBean Parkway, Stoll said.  

Sheriff set up containment on bike paths around fire area. Dan Watson / The Signal.

Perry Smith contributed to this report. This story was last updated Wednesday, May 20 at 9:45 a.m.

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