Transcript: Interview with Undersheriff Paula Presley

Paula Presley: Again, a sense of helplessness and panic. When I say panic, I mean not to the point of you know, people didn't know what to do. I mean everybody was very focused and knew what to do but again the winds were contributing to the fire and it was difficult to get it under control at that point and establish any containment and so I think many of us were setting back and looking at this and watching it and wondering just how far it would go and even now, this morning as were walking its calm. There's not even a breeze up here. This afternoon that can change as you know in minutes and that can certainly hamper the firefighting efforts and so we know that we're not anywhere, it's not anywhere near over at this point, but yeah. I think we're most fearful of the weather and not being able to get this fire contained before it spreads any further.

Alex Perez: As the undersheriff, and as somebody that calls this place home, how important is it to you that we find out what happened here?

Paula Presley: It's critical. If this was an arson, this was intentionally set, we absolutely need to um to determine that as quickly as possible and find the person and hold them accountable for that. You know, when we talk about, you know, terrorist activity you know this in many ways is a type of terrorism where somebody is trying to destroy you know, an entire city, essentially.

Alex Perez: And possibly could if firefighters aren't able to get it under control.

Paula Presley: Absolutely so, it's very critical that we-- if in fact this an arson –that we are able to investigate it, find that individual, hold them accountable and prevent them from doing the same thing somewhere else.

Alex Perez: And so the point of origin they think was near this trail?

Paula Presley: Yes. It's off the trail, yes. I can't tell you where obviously because I haven't been back there but they believe it's a short distance off of the trail back in there so yah.

Alex Perez: And so what kinds of things can they do to figure out what started it?

Paula Presley: Well, I certainly am not an arson investigator but one of the things that they will do is I mean they're going to look at the site where they believed it to start, determine you know, what evidence is there. Are there any accelerants that were used? I mean based upon the pattern of the burn they're able to tell often times if there was a certain accelerant used which would have been intentionally obviously poured on the ground to start the fire. So there's a lot of things that they can tell it's very, very complex type of investigation, very technical. You know, just general investigators aren't typically trained in that type of investigation so that's why we do have arson investigators who are specifically trained to do that but that's one of the first things that they're going to look for is what the pattern of the fire is. Of the burn and to determine whether or not accelerants were used.

Alex Perez: So you can look at that pattern and at the burn and they can get an idea of what started that?

Paula Presley: That can give them at least an idea of where to go from there and whether or not they believe that it was intentionally set, whether it was an arson or not.

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