How did investigators figure this out? CalFire spokesman Daniel Berlant says it’s a process of elimination.
Berlant: “We work backwards – trying to rule out all types of possibilities. Right away it was ruled out that there wasn’t any lightning, so it wasn’t lightning-caused. Wasn’t near a railroad, so it wasn’t railroad-caused. And that’s why it’s taken over a month now to rule out every single cause and to have us be very confident that this was arson.” (0:18)
Arson squared, in fact. Berlant says the fire originated at Highway 49 and Rock Creek Road. But about 20 minutes later, someone started a second fire about a quarter mile east. Then, they merged – and together, they burned 350 acres and razed 65 buildings.
CalFire is asking anyone who saw something suspicious – no matter how tiny a detail – to call their arson hotline: 1-800-468-4408.