LAKE COUNTY (CBS13) – Arsonists are being blamed for dozens of fires across California including the Clayton Fire and experts say not every arson has the same motive.
“It is a tragic day when we identify any individual that intentionally starts a fire,” investigators announced shortly after an arrest was made.
Damin Pashilk of Lake County is facing 17 counts of arson for destroying parts of this small community and leaving so many asking, why?
“We don’t know, we just don’t know,” said a resident who had to flee her home.
Pashilk was an inmate firefighter and has been a suspect in other arsons. Experts say he could be acting on a hero impulse.
“He’s getting a thrill seeing the fire engines roaring up the street with the lights and sirens and the multitude of engines that are on their way,” said retired state arson and bomb investigator, Larry Navarrette. “He enjoys seeing all this action going on.”
Navarrette was an arson investigator for 20 years. He said arsonists set fires for many different reasons: revenge, fraud, the thrill of it, and others for vanity.
Wayne Huntsman took this selfie video after he started the King fire in El Dorado County that burned for 27 days in 2014. It shows him narrowly escaping the fire himself.
“To show off his knowledge, or maybe where the fire is making him look good,” said Navarrette.
Tuesday afternoon, Metro fire saw a blaze along Highway 50 and a man running from it. They say Charles Andersen is responsible for setting multiple fires along the way.
Navarrette said arsons are tough crimes to investigate and sometimes the motive is even harder to understand.
“To find out why they did that, and a lot of times, it’s just for the thrill of it,” he said.
Statistics show 25 percent of fires in the U.S. are arson and only 10 percent are prosecuted. Investigators say the evidence is usually circumstantial and seldom do they get an eyewitness.