Roughly 1,000 people in Los Angeles remained under evacuation orders Sunday, and residents in another 130 homes were warned they might need to flee after a brushfire that may have been ignited by an arsonist grew to more than 1,300 acres.
Fire investigators said the blaze that began Friday night in the affluent Pacific Palisades and Topanga Canyon neighborhoods had a “suspicious start,” said Margaret Stewart, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Fire Department. She declined to provide more details, citing the ongoing investigation.
Deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department briefly detained a man in connection with the fire after he was identified on Citizen, an app that describes itself as a personal safety network, according to a Spectrum News reporter.
An image of the man was displayed above an advertisement for a $30,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of what the ad called “the arson suspect.”
Sheriff’s Lt. Jim Braden told the reporter that deputies did not have evidence to charge the man and said what appeared on the app was potentially “disastrous” because it could lead to someone getting hurt.
The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for the sheriff’s department referred questions about Braden’s comments to the station where he works. Lt. Anna Carrillo, the watch commander on duty Sunday, declined to comment and referred questions to the Los Angeles Police Department, which has jurisdiction over the area where the fire started.
The department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The fire, which was 0 percent contained Sunday, was ignited amid fierce wind gusts and a severe drought that stretches across most of the state. California experienced its most destructive wildfire season on record in 2020, a result of climate change and a century of fire suppression.
Daniel Swain, a climate scientist with the University of California Los Angeles, said last week that the state’s vegetation had already reached peak summer dryness and that much of the state was at “exceptionally high risk” for wildfires this year.