Ventura – While Southern California suffers under the most severe drought in a century and rural hillsides’ native vegetation turns tinder-dry in an unusually hot summer, fire prevention resources and law enforcement personnel are what might be described as “highly responsive” to the threat of brush fires started at the hand of man.
With that in mind, according to Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Cpt. Don Aguilar, it was just after noon on September 29th that Ventura County Fire Department units responded to a brush fire “in the hills north of Harmon Canyon about one mile north of Foothill Road” in an unincorporated area east of the City of Ventura. With multiple agencies responding to the 50-acre fire, including member of the Ventura City Fire Department, CAL FIRE, Los Angeles County Fire Department, the U.S. Forest Service, the Ventura Police Department, and the California Highway Patrol, “firefighters worked overnight” Aguilar said, ultimately bringing the fire under control before it became a major conflagration requiring even more resources.
VCFD Arson Investigators began working circumstances surround the fire while it was still being fought. Their investigation was aided by citizen reports and a description of an individual seen fleeing the area of the fire’s point of origin. During their interviews and investigation, Deputies “observed a subject, later identified as Garrett Smith, running from the area.” Smith, a 24-year old Oxnard resident, was summarily detained by Deputies and questioned.
Smith’s answers to those questions quickly led to his arrest, and he was transported to Ventura County Jail where he was booked on charges of arson and prowling, with his bail set at $60,000.
Photo: Courtesy Ventura County Jail Booking
LATIMES: Arson, prowling arrest made