Hiker airlifted out of fire zone arrested on suspicion of starting Fontana blaze
A 34-year-old man is in custody after being arrested on suspicion of starting a brush fire that forced evacuations in Fontana on Sunday.
Luis Mondragon was reportedly seen near the blaze — dubbed the Cypress fire — which burned through 150 acres of land and threatened as many as 130 homes after igniting near the Jurupa Hills Regional Park around 1:35 p.m.
Multiple 911 callers reported Mondragon standing on a boulder in the hills as the fire burned, according to a news release issued by Fontana police. He and another hiker were both rescued from the fire by a San Bernardino County helicopter.
Mondragon was booked on suspicion of unlawfully causing a fire that causes inhabited structures or land to burn, said Fontana Police spokesman Kevin Anderson, noting that the charge is different from arson because officials do not think the fire was set intentionally.
“It’s kind of like negligence in the use of fire that causes damage,” he said, “but it’s still a felony.”
It is not yet clear what kind of device may have been used to start the fire, Anderson said. It is also not known whether Mondragon lives in the area. Officials think he may be homeless or transient.
Crews from the San Bernardino County Fire Department, the Riverside County Fire Department and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection all responded to the blaze, according to a news release issued by the San Bernardino County Fire Department.
Firefighters were able to gain control of the flames and lift evacuations by 6 p.m. Sunday.
Mondragon is being held at West Valley Detention Center in lieu of $25,000 bail in preparation for a court appearance Tuesday, Anderson said.
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