Coalinga, CA – Coalinga hills have long been a fire hazard during “fire season” but in 2015 and 2016 when a spate of fires began along SR 198 just west of the town, more than one resident wondered if it was the work of an arsonist.
It turns out, that yes, it was an arsonist who was arrested October 22.
CAL FIRE law enforcement officers arrested 44-year-old Jose Sanchez, a longtime resident of Tulare County, on October, 22 2019, after a three-year long investigation. Sanchez was booked into the Fresno County jail on 4 counts of “Arson to Forest Lands”, Penal Code 451(c), and 4 counts of setting fires during a state of emergency declared by the Governor, Penal Code 454(a). The fires were located on the HWY 198 corridor, from Coalinga in Fresno County to Kings City in Monterey County.
Suspicious fires were occurring along this Hwy 198 corridor as far back as 2015.
We would like to take this opportunity to remind the public how important it is for everyone to be vigilant and report suspicious activity to authorities. If you see someone starting a fire, call 911. If you see a suspicious person, vehicle or any other activity prior to, during or after a fire write down the information and call the police or fire department. Important information to write down would include a description of
the person you see, height, weight, sex and clothing description. If a vehicle or bicycle is involved, write down its: make, model, color and description. Any person with information related to an arson fire is urged to contact the CAL FIRE Arson Hotline at 800-468-4408. Callers can remain anonymous.