September 18, 2020 – Santa Barbara County
With half the state of California covered in a thick pall of smoke and more than 20,000 firefighters battling 27 wildfires statewide, one might think this is a particularly dodgy time to be running around lighting fires.
Apparently the loss of more than 30 lives, the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars in resources, and the incinerating of hundreds of homes and countless forest, chaparral, and grassland acres caught the attention of 39-year-old Lompos resident Ismael Zragoza Chavez.
On the afternoon of September 14th , his attention turned to fascination and a serious case of pyromania.
According to Lompoc Police Department spokesman Sergeant S. Arias, “a vehicle, a backyard shed, and several dumpsters” were the targets of Chavez’s inflammatory instincts. When conflagrations at those three locations were reported, the Lompoc Fire Department promptly responded to the scenes and extinguished the flames.
With clear evidence of arson, Lompoc Police Department patrol units fanned out across the area and tracked down Chavez. Upon contact with him, officers discovered “evidence indicating he was responsible for lighting the fires.”
Chavez was booked into the Lompoc Police Department Jail where he remains in custody pending a bail hearing.
Photo: Courtesy Lompoc Police Department Jail Booking