AZUSA—The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office charged a man on Tuesday, August 18 for starting a brush fire that caused an evacuation a week prior.
Osmin Palencia, 36, faces one felony count each of arson during a state of emergency and arson of a structure or forest for starting a fire in Azusa on August 13. Prosecutors state the defendant, who lives in a tent near the Mountain Cove community, allegedly started the fire during an argument.
The initial report of the “ranch fire” stated: “All Mt. Cove Residents are being asked to evacuate the neighborhood immediately! There is a brush fire which was reported at 2:45PM that is now actively threatening the Mt Cove Community… There will be no incoming traffic allowed.” The fire grew to burn up 2,500 acres of land.
— L.A. County Fire Department (@LACoFDPIO) August 13, 2020
The defendant surrendered hilmself to the Azusa Police Department early on August 16.
Palenica also has allegations of being previously convicted of dissuading a witness in 2015. His arraignment was on Tuesday in Department 4 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, West Covina Branch.
Bail is scheduled at $435,000. If convicted as charged, Palencia faces a possible maximum sentence of 23 years in state prison. The case remains under investigation by the Azusa Police and Los Angeles County Fire departments.