Man guilty of setting fire that killed 12 California condors

A person who began a 2020 wildfire that killed 12 endangered California condors and significantly injured a firefighter has been convicted of arson

SALINAS, Calif. — A person who began a 2020 wildfire that killed 12 endangered California condors and significantly injured a firefighter was convicted Thursday of arson and will withstand 24 years in state jail when he’s sentenced, prosecutors stated.

Ivan Gomez, 31, was convicted by a Monterey County decide of setting the Huge Sur Dolan fire whereas illegally rising marijuana within the Los Padres Nationwide Forest, the county district lawyer’s workplace introduced.

The blaze erupted on Aug. 18, 2020, on the central coast northwest of Los Angeles. It destroyed 10 houses and an 80-acre (32-hectare) condor sanctuary in Huge Sur that since 1997 had been used to launch captive-bred condors into the wild. There weren’t any condors within the facility on the time however a dozen birds died because the blaze unfold throughout 125,000 acres (506 sq. kilometers) of forest.

Gomez was arrested after state parks officers noticed the fire and acquired experiences of a person throwing rocks at vehicles on a freeway, authorities stated.

Gomez, who was shirtless and sweating, confessed to setting the blaze and was carrying a number of lighters that matched others discovered on the spot the place the fire ignited, the DA’s workplace stated.

The fire practically price the lives of 14 firefighters who have been attempting to defend their fire station however have been overrun by flames and needed to deploy emergency shelters, in response to a report this 12 months by the Wildland Fire Classes Discovered Heart, which promotes firefighter security. Three have been hospitalized with burns and smoke inhalation, together with a fire captain who was significantly injured.

The fire was lastly contained on Dec. 31, 2020.

Gomez was convicted of 16 felony counts, together with arson, throwing rocks at a automobile and 11 counts of cruelty to animals involving condor deaths.

The California condor is the most important North American land fowl, with a wingspan of as much as 9 toes (about 2.7 meters).

Within the early Nineteen Eighties, all 22 condors remaining within the wild have been trapped and introduced right into a captive-breeding program that started releasing the enormous vultures into Southern California’s Los Padres Nationwide Forest in 1992.

That flock has been increasing its vary whereas different condors now occupy components of California’s Central Coast, Arizona, Utah and Baja California, Mexico. Right now there are greater than 500 recognized birds, each in captivity and within the wild.

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