No Suspects in SoCal Arson Investigation

Federal agents have joined California officials in their search for arsonists who they believe started at least two of the 14 wildfires that have raged through Southern California the last five days, forcing mass evacuations and causing damage totaling millions of dollars.

Arson is suspected in the Santiago fire, which originated near the Santiago and Silverado canyons in Orange County. That fire was fed by Santa Ana winds and scorched 20,000 acres.

But authorities said they still have no suspects.

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"No search warrants were executed and no arrests have been made," said Jim Amormino, of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

One resident captured what he believes may be proof of an arson.

Anthony Mack, of a local neighborhood watch force called the Silverado Canyon Watch, took pictures the night the Santiago blaze began and captured a view of the fire moving in three different directions.

"Fire doesn't start in three places at once so seeing it having multiple origins looked very suspicious," Mack said.

In addition to Orange County, arson is also suspected in the Riverside County fires.

The investigation has possibly increased tensions in some areas. In fact, in San Bernardino County, a man suspected of starting a small fire was arrested and police shot and killed another man when he fled after they approached him to see whether he might be igniting another blaze, according to The Associated Press.

Arson for Kicks?

While authorities continue searching for a suspect, at least one profiler says the type of person involved may have done it for the thrill.

"The arsonist is enormously proud of what he's done," said criminal profiler Candice Delong. "And often times people that do this kind of destruction and damage are inadequate in their lives, in their relationships with other people. They don't feel that they measure up. But when they start a fire they can look back and say, 'You don't think I'm anybody. Oh yeah, look at that.'"

"We rarely see arsons of this type being started by anyone other than an adult white male," she said.

Past Arsonists' Wildfires

In recent years, some of California's most damaging wildfires have been started by arsonists.

The 1993 and 1996 Malibu fires were linked to arsonists, and last year a blaze outside Palm Springs that killed four firefighters was also ruled as arson.

The Palm Springs blaze charred more than 60 square miles, and a 90-foot wall of flames overran members of the San Bernardino National Forest Engine 57 as they tried to protect an unoccupied vacation home.

Raymond Lee Oyler, a 36-year-old auto mechanic, is accused of starting the fire and five counts of first-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty and his trial is set for December, the AP reports.

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