Firefighters Make Progress on Los Angeles Wildfire

Fire was 32% contained on Tuesday

 

A fire crew walks in line to fight the Palisades Fire in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles, Sunday, May 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

 

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Firefighters on Tuesday increased containment of a Los Angeles wildfire and officials identified the man suspected of starting the blaze that prompted evacuations in canyon neighborhoods.

Ramon Rodriguez Flores was detained Sunday when he emerged from heavy brush near the fire zone and later arrested, the Los Angeles Fire Department said in a statement. It wasn’t immediately known if he has an attorney. The statement described the 48-year-old as a transient.

The wildfire in steep, inaccessible terrain near Topanga State Park was 32% contained by Tuesday morning. Officials revised the size slightly downward, now saying it has charred just under 2 square miles (5.4 square kilometers) of trees and heavy brush.

No buildings were damaged in the blaze that broke out Friday in the Santa Monica Mountains. It grew rapidly Saturday — forcing about 1,000 Topanga Canyon area residents to flee their homes.

Evacuation orders were lifted Monday evening.

Arson investigators were called after a helicopter crew spotted a man “moving around in the brush along a steep hillside near the fire” and later “witnessed the individual ignite multiple additional fires,” the Fire Department statement said.

The suspect was treated for smoke inhalation, said Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas.

“We feel we have the right person,” Terrazas said at a news conference Monday.

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