Arson Suspect in Custody as Clayton Fire Is 20 Percent Contained

Suspect implicated in numerous fires, including one that destroyed 175 homes.

— -- The man suspected of starting numerous California wildfires in the past year — including one this weekend that has burned more than 4,000 acres and destroyed more than 175 structures — is now in custody.

Officers took Damin Anthony Pashilk, 40, into custody Monday and charged him with 17 counts of arson in Northern California.

"Mr. Pashilk committed a horrific crime, and we will seek prosecution to the fullest extent of the law," said Chief Ken Pimlott of Cal Fire. "The residents of Lake County have experienced senseless loss and endured significant hardship over the past year."

The Clayton fire in Lake County, which police suspect that Pashilk started, began Saturday and has so far burned more than 4,000 acres.

Thousands of people have been evacuated since the fire began, according to The Associated Press.

It has destroyed more than 175 structures and is threatening an additional 1,500.

Firefighters "made considerable progress" fighting the blaze Monday night, and this morning the blaze is 20 percent contained, officials said.

Pashilk is expected to appear in court Wednesday.