A man from Washington state was arrested on suspicion of arson, burglary and numerous other offenses when he was found hiding in a brush pile near the site of house fire in the Oroville area.
Butte County Fire Department crews responded at 10:40 a.m. Monday to a structure fire on Arbol Drive near Olive Highway in the Oroville area. Fire investigators determined that the fire was deliberately set and that the residence had been burglarized.
A Butte County sheriff’s deputy dispatched to investigate the burglary found that both the house and a detached garage had been burglarized, according to a Sheriff’s Office news release. While searching a wooded area near the home for evidence, the deputy found a significant amount of property stolen from the residence, sheriff’s officials said. He also found an all-terrain vehicle taken from the victim’s garage.
While searching the area around the ATV, the deputy found Richard Thomas Harris, 33, of Montesano, Wash., hiding in a brush pile. Harris was in possession of a stolen handgun, ammunition and other property from the residence, as well as property stolen out of Medford, Ore., sheriff’s officials said. He also allegedly was in possession of methamphetamine-related paraphernalia.
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While he was being detained, Harris threatened to harm deputies and their families upon his release from jail, sheriff’s officials said.
Harris was arrested on suspicion of two counts of burglary, arson, vehicle theft, being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, obstructing or resisting officers, possession of stolen property, possession of drug paraphernalia and an outstanding warrant from Placer County. He is being held without bail due to the warrant, officials said.
An estimated $38,000 worth of stolen property was returned to victims. The home suffered extensive damage and the amount of the loss has not been assessed, sheriff’s officials said.
The investigation is continuing in an attempt to find the owners of other identified stolen property, they said.