Photo: arson site
May 28, 2021 – Santa Barbara, Ca.
It was just prior to 9:00 p.m. on the night of Thursday, May 20 th when anyone visiting the downtown area or traveling on U.S. 101 through Santa Barbara was witness to a sudden conflagration racing up the steep slopes of the city’s “TV Hill” overlooking the city.
With 50-mph winds driving the wildfire uphill toward residential neighborhoods and 17 Santa Barbara County and City Fire engine companies responding, evacuations of the area immediately ensued. While fire crews fought the flames, ultimately bringing them under control five hours later, an investigation into the cause of the fire was already under way.
According to Santa Barbara City Fire Department spokesman Chris Mailes, three days later, 23- year-old Santa Barbara resident Victor Angele Hernandez was found “hiding in the brush” in the vicinity of the conflagration. He was summarily “detained and questioned,” with that conversation leading to him being taken into custody “on suspicion of arson.
He was transported to Santa Barbara County Jail, where he has been charged with multiple counts of felony arson of an inhabited structure, facing special allegations for “causing multiple structures to burn.” He was also charged with being under the influence of a controlled substance and being in possession of methamphetamine.
Hernandez remains in custody with his bail set at $2,000,000.
Photo: Courtesy Santa Barbara County Fire Department