Home News Stories 2007 October

Update - Reward in California Arson Investigation

The Fires of California
Reward Offered in Arson Investigation

10/31/07 (updated)

An FBI evidence expert surveys a scene in Orange County, California.
An FBI evidence expert surveys a scene
in Orange County, California.

We need your help: one of the fires devastating Southern California since Sunday was deliberately set, the Orange County Fire Authority has determined.

If you have any information about the fire that originated at Santiago Canyon, please call the fire authority tip line immediately at (800) 540-8282. A reward of $250,000 is being offered—with $50,000 of that total pledged by the FBI—for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible. More than 800 calls have been logged on the tip line so far.

Investigators are asking that a specific group of people seen at the intersection of Blackstar Canyon Road and Silverado Canyon Road between 5:55 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. at the inception or early stages of the fire to come forward and provide still photos or video taken at the time. This group may have crucial information about the suspected arson.

Evidence response expert gathering equipment from a truck

Our role. We’re lending our help and expertise to the Orange County Fire Authority, the ATF, and other agencies, with more than 20 agents, analysts, and other experts providing various forms of support in Los Angeles alone. We’re assisting in the technical aspects of the investigation, including establishing a time line, gathering evidence at the scene, analyzing video and photographs, examining key records, and gathering other information and records.

“The FBI is committed to providing whatever resources are necessary to aid Orange County fire officials in solving this complex criminal investigation,” said Herb Brown, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Criminal Division in Los Angeles. “FBI employees at many levels are supporting this cooperative effort dedicated to finding the person responsible for destroying homes and for exhausting resources that could have been used to fight fires elsewhere in Southern California.”

We’re also supporting the overall response to the wildfires in other ways:

  • FBI computer scientist Teddy Lindsey (standing) shows his geo-location tool to a member of the Sheriffs' department
    FBI Computer Scientist Teddy Lindsey
    (standing) shows his geo-location tool to
    a member of the County Sheriffs’ department.
    In San Diego, where seven different fires have burned more than 400,000 acres, we’ve set up a toll-free hotline—1-800-CALL FBI—for the public to report scams related to the wildfires. It’s a preventative step: we’ve seen criminals prey on the generosity and compassion of Americans following major disasters many times before. See our press release for advice on giving and other ways to report fraud to us.
  • We set up a command post in San Diego to monitor the wildfire situation and its potential impact on our operations and to account for all of our employees, including non-FBI officers serving on our various task forces. Three of our employees have lost their homes, but thankfully, no one has been injured.
  • In a related effort, FBI Computer Scientist Teddy Lindsey created a unique geo-location system to help identify more than 500 FBI employees’ homes that were being threatened by the wildfires in San Diego. Lindsey took off-the-shelf technology and integrated it with sophisticated thermal imaging data which resulted in a way to also help emergency response teams and other FBI-related assistance efforts. This mapping system was shared with the County Sheriffs’ department to support their emergency services personnel.

For details on information and services being provided by the government in response to the California fires, please visit the USA.gov website.