Homeless man suspected of starting California wildfire that scorched 1,400 acres

Firefighters battling Southern California wildfires face tough conditions

Triple-digit temperatures, winds fuel three major wildfires near Los Angeles; Jeff Paul reports.

A homeless man in California is suspected of intentionally starting a wildfire that led to evacuations for an area east of Los Angeles last week, according to officials.

The Azusa Police Department said Friday that Osmin Palencia, 36, is wanted for allegedly starting the Ranch 2 Fire, which erupted Thursday afternoon.

Officials said Palencia is last known to have lived in an encampment in the Azusa Canyon riverbed, near where the fire sparked.

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"He is believed to be violent, and the public is encouraged to use caution if they see him," police said.

Osmin Palencia, 36, is wanted for allegedly starting the Ranch 2 Fire in California on Thursday.
(Azusa Police Department)

Officials said Palencia has multiple active arrest warrants.

As of Sunday morning, the blaze that blackened foothills above the Los Angeles suburb of Azusa is only 3% contained.

It churned through 2.3 square miles of brush on Thursday and was moving away from homes. Evacuation orders issued to residents were lifted early Friday.

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Officials initially said the blaze burned some 2,500 acres before revising that to 1,400 Saturday.

Firefighters have been busy trying to contain two other wildfires near Los Angeles, as record-breaking heat with triple-digit temperatures and low humidity have made for dangerous fire conditions.

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An explosive wildfire in the northern part of the state triggered a tornado warning due to a "firenado," that later touched down.

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A huge forest fire that prompted evacuations north of Los Angeles, the Lake Fire, is now 12% contained after burning some 17,862 acres and flaring up on Saturday afternoon.

In this Aug. 13, 2020, file photo, a burned vehicle is seen in the Lake Hughes Fire in Angeles National Forest on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020, north of Santa Clarita, Calif.
(AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File)

Although it was burning into forest land, evacuation orders remained in effect for the western Antelope Valley because erratic winds in the forecast could push the fire toward homes, according to fire officials.

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Another blaze came dangerously close to a neighborhood in the city of Corona, east of Los Angeles, before crews controlled it.

In this Aug. 12, 2020, file photo, a helicopter drops water on the Lake Hughes Fire in Angeles National Forest north of Santa Clarita, Calif.
(AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File)

In the northern part of the state, a blaze near the community of Sloughhouse, near Sacramento, burned about 500 acres before firefighters stopped its forward spread.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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