L.A. fire, ruled arson, is now a crime scene
Eyewitness accounts and incendiary material point to arson as the cause of the largest fire in the area's history.
La Cañada and Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Now the dirty work begins.
With the deadly wildfire that has burned 150,000 acres now gone from its point of origin, homicide detectives and arson investigators are poring over the evidence left behind for clues leading to the person or persons responsible.
The US Forest Service determined Thursday that the blaze was started intentionally – making the deaths of two firefighters homicides. They have as yet announced no suspects and are not releasing the precise coordinates. But it is an area that is not currently burning, although investigators said the fire passed back over what is now an official crime scene.
"After a forensic examination at the point of origin, arson investigators have concluded that the Station Fire was the result of an act of arson," said Rita Wears, US Forest Service commander.
Investigators are focusing on an area north of Los Angeles as the possible epicenter of the fire, which has burned for about 10 days.
"It's a very difficult investigation," says Tom Debellis, an information officer with the City of Colton Fire Department, one of many local fire agencies participating in this interagency effort. That's because fire has passed over the point of origin twice, he says, igniting light grasses the first time and more dense wood after the fire built up strength.