A Placer County judge, determining there was insufficient evidence, has ordered the release of the man suspected of starting the 2012 Robbers Fire, the Placer County District Attorney's Office confirmed Friday.
Bryon Mason of Sacramento was arrested shortly after the fire. Following a preliminary hearing, Superior Court Judge Colleen Nichols on Tuesday found that the evidence presented was lacking, effectively dropping the charges against Mason, and ordered his release from custody. His bail had been set at $100,000.
The fire burned 2,650 acres northeast of Foresthill and destroyed one home and four outbuildings. An additional 170 residences were threatened and many families were forced to evacuate their homes.
Mason was charged with felony arson causing bodily injury and arson of an inhabited dwelling. A weeklong preliminary hearing on the facts of the case concluded Feb. 20.
The Distric Attorney's Office alleged that Mason "lit and threw an illegal commercial grade display-type firework" at a swimming hole along Shirttail Creek, causing the forest fire.
"On March 5, 2013 the court ruled that there was insufficient evidence to hold the defendant to stand trial on the two counts of arson," District Attorney R. Scott Owens' office said though a news release.
While Owens said he disagrees with the judge's ruling and "remains committed to seeking justice for the victims of the Robbers Fire," in a subsequent statement said they were "weighing all available legal options."
An April 2 court date has been set to discuss further proceedings, the prosecutor's office said.