An Arbuckle man was arrested Thursday on suspicion of deliberately setting fire to public land along County Road 99 as he walked from Williams to Arbuckle.
Enrique Saavedra Hernandez, 24, was booked into the Colusa County Jail around 3:30 PM, where he is being held on $75,000 bail.
Williams Fire Chief Jeff Gilbert said Hernandez is suspected of starting a small brush fire around 8:30 AM near the railroad, south of Ware Ave., in Williams, and then another fire just farther south. Hernandez is also suspected of striking at least two more blazes in the vicinity of Myers Road.
Firefighters from Williams and Arbuckle responded to the fires, which burned from 10 to 30 feet of dry grass before they were extinguished.
Colusa County Sheriff’s Deputy R. Ladd also responded and found Hernandez walking along the roadway about a mile south of Myers Road, where Hernandez was taken into custody.
Hernandez reportedly admitted to setting the fires, telling the deputy that he didn’t think the grass was dry enough to burn but that he wanted to see if it would.
Gilbert said arsonists of this kind typically are dealing with some mental health issues. According to Colusa County court records, Hernandez was arrested July 31 for vandalism and suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance. He was arraigned on those charges Aug. 20, two days before the suspected arson.
Hernandez is charged with two counts of arson following Thursday’s incident, and, if convicted, could face two to six years on each charge, according to statute.
BUSY DAY FOR WILLIAMS FIRE
While Williams firefighters were dealing with the arson fires, the department also responded to a call to Love’s Truck Stop around 2:15 PM after a refrigerator unit ignited.
While an employee of the restaurant quickly extinguished the blaze, escaped refrigerant caused three employees to need transport to Colusa Medical Center for possible breathing issues.
Gilbert said Love’s did a very good job a evacuating the building, and the incident caused no further injury.
After cleaning up the fire retardant, the Williams Fire Department gave the truck stop, which was closed about 1.5 hours, the green light to reopen.
Gilbert said on Thursday, alone, Williams firefighters tuned out to seven emergency calls. ■