Temporary arrest on suspicion of arson following 5 fires along Toll Road 261 in Irvine – Orange County Register

Police arrested a homeless man on Wednesday evening who is suspected of setting fire to several bushes along Toll Road 261 in Irvine. At least two of the five fires were less than a block from the homes.

Orange County Fire Authority firefighters initially responded to reports of burning brushes along the toll road near Freeway 5 at around 6:22 p.m., Irvine police said. They quickly put out the fire, which was originally thought to be accidental.

The cause of the fire is indeterminate, but it is classified as random.

– OCFA PIO (@OCFA_PIO), February 25, 2021

But about two hours later and less than 1.5 miles away, near the toll road and Bryan Ave, more flames were reported, police said. Officers deployed a drone while firefighters put out the second fire and took footage of a man setting fire to another near Irvine Boulevard.

In a video released by police on Thursday, he was seen near an open flame amid a brush near the toll road and Irvine Boulevard. Then he walked a short distance from the fire, lay down in a piece of vegetation and covered himself with a blanket, IPD Sgt. Karie Davies said

Officials located him and took him into custody without incident, police said. He was identified as 41-year-old Jose Antonia LozanoMartinez and described as a Transient, whose last known address was in Santa Ana, Davies said.

Jose Antonio LozanoMartinez was arrested on suspicion of setting five vegetation fires in Irvine on Wednesday February 24th. (Courtesy photo of the Irvine Police Department)

He was sent to Orange County Jail on suspicion of arson. More information about the fires or why Lozano-Martinez might want to start them was not immediately released.

Davies said he didn’t light the fires to keep warm.

A total of five fires burned in the area “in a relatively short time,” said Davies. At least two of these fires were less than a block from homes and could have gotten out of control due to the near-year-round fire hazard in Southern California. Earlier this week forecasters warned of strong winds that would blow in the region. Gusts combined with warm, dry air are a recipe for forest fires.

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