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U.S. police searches for arsonists in California
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01:47, October 26, 2007

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U.S. federal and California police are searching for arsonists who they believe started at least two of the 14 wildfires that have raged through Southern California in the past five days, ABC News reported Thursday.

Arson is suspected in the Santiago fire, which originated near the Santiago and Silverado canyons in Orange County, the report said.
Orange County has offered a reward of 70,000 U.S. dollars for information leading to an arrest in the case.

Arson is also suspected in the Riverside County fires.
The investigation has possibly increased tensions in some areas.

In San Bernardino County, a man suspected of starting a small fire was arrested. Another man was shot and killed by the police when he fled after police approached him to see whether he was igniting another blaze.

In recent years, some of California's most damaging wildfires have been started by arsonists, including the 1993 and 1996 Malibu fires and last year's blaze outside Palm Springs that has killed four firefighters.

The Palm Springs blaze charred more than 60 square miles, and a 90-foot wall of flames overran members of the San Bernardino National Forest Engine 57 as they tried to protect an unoccupied vacation home.

Raymond Lee Oyler, a 36-year-old auto mechanic, is accused of starting the fire and five counts of first-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty and his trial is set for December.

Police are stepping up patrols throughout fire-ravaged regions, to prevent copycat arson and looting. Two looting suspects have been arrested.

Source: Xinhua

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