VENTURA — In the early afternoon of September 24th, a 911 Emergency call reporting smoke sightings brought Ventura City Fire Department personnel and Ventura Police Department patrol units to the dry Ventura River bed leading into the Emma Wood State Campground area just a stone’s throw from the U.S. 101 overpass.
The scene of massive flooding a decade ago, the river bottom is now choked with dry brush and weeds parched from recent drought conditions.
According to the Ventura Police Department’s Watch Commander’s Report, upon arrival at the scene, officers interviewed witnesses who indicated that a man had been seen “lighting small fires” near the entrance to the popular campground, and that he had “left the area on foot and walked onto the northbound lanes of U.S. 101.
While Ventura County Fire units were summoned, VPD officers and State Parks Rangers pursued a suspect “as he attempted to flee on foot.” He was soon contacted and detained, whereupon it was determined that he had indeed been “involved in setting several small fires in the area.”
As additional personnel and equipment from Ventura City Fire Department, the Ventura County Fire Department, and CalFire responded to the scene along with the VCFD’s water-dropping helicopter unit, the suspect was identified as Timothy Bowman, a 55-year-old local area transient. As the quarter-acre fire burning the in the river bottom was being extinguished, Bowman was transported to Ventura County Jail, where he was booked on a charge of arson.