Osmin Palencia was charged with one felony count each of arson during a state of emergency and arson of a structure or forest

By Ashley Boucher
August 19, 2020 06:31 PM
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Osmin Palencia

A man has been charged with arson after turning himself in for allegedly starting the Ranch 2 Fire in Azusa, California.

Osmin Palencia, 36, was charged with one felony count each of arson during a state of emergency and arson of a structure or forest, the Los Angeles District Attorney's office announced in a press release Tuesday.

"The defendant, who lives in a tent near the Mountain Cove community, allegedly started the fire on August 13 during an argument, prosecutors said," the press release stated.

Palencia turned himself in to the Azusa Police detectives on Sunday, three days after the fire began, the Azusa Police Department said in a press release Sunday.

The Los Angeles Fire Department named the blaze that began in the Azusa Canyon Riverbed the Ranch Fire — which has now spread to 4,300 acres. The fire is at 19 percent containment as of Wednesday, Angeles National Forest Service announced.

Ranch 2 Fire in LA County
| Credit: CHINE NOUVELLE/shutterstock

More than 500 personnel are working on controlling the fire, which has caused highway closures and evacuations in the Azusa area.

Palencia's bail has been set at $435,000, the Los Angeles DA said, and he could face up to 23 years in state prison if convicted as charged. He was scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday in Los Angeles.

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It was not immediately clear if Palencia currently has legal representation.

There are currently 367 known fires raging across the state of California, Governor Gavin Newsom said Wednesday. The state is also experiencing a record heat wave and intense lightning storms, which have sparked several of the wildfires.

While several fires have reached upward of 30 percent containment — the Apple Fire is now 95 percent contained — others remain at zero.