LAKE COUNTY, CALIF. – As firefighters battled the Jerusalem Fire, estimated at 5,000 acres and burning southeast of Clear Lake in northern California, Cal Fire Law Enforcement officers arrested Juan Ramos Silva, 49, of Lower Lake, Calif., for one count of arson and allegedly starting a backfire.
Silva was arrested on Sunday, Aug. 9, at approximately 7:30 p.m. The Press Democrat reports that Silva is suspected by Sheriff’s deputies of starting a separate fire in an attempt to protect his marijuana garden.
Silva was booked into Lake County Jail on suspicion of violating Penal Code Section 452(c), unlawfully causing a fire to forest land, and Public Resource Code Section 4426, “a person shall not set a backfire, or cause a backfire to be set, except under the direct supervision or permission of a state or federal forest officer.”
“This is the fifth arrest our officers have made in just the past two weeks,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, Cal Fire Director. “Especially now with the dry conditions from the drought, we will absolutely not tolerate arson of any type and will track down those suspected of causing harm to our communities.”
The fire that Silva allegedly set was not related to the cause of the Jerusalem Fire or the Rocky Fire. The investigation into the origin and cause of both the Rocky Fire and Jerusalem Fire are ongoing, as investigators continue to work to determine a cause.
Residents should be vigilant in their preparedness and aware of suspicious persons when a fire does start. Suspicious activity should be reported including the time, individual’s physical description, and a vehicle description, including the license plate number.
Always contact law enforcement, never approach a suspicious person. Anyone with information about arson is urged to contact the Cal Fire Arson Hotline at 1-800-468-4408. Callers can remain anonymous.