Fires

Crime ravages fire-destroyed Butte County as residents evacuate

Why one Paradise resident stayed behind during the Camp Fire

Paradise resident, Keith Mapes, explains why he stayed behind during the Camp Fire to protect the property of he and his neighbors on Nov. 12, 2018.
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Paradise resident, Keith Mapes, explains why he stayed behind during the Camp Fire to protect the property of he and his neighbors on Nov. 12, 2018.

As if things weren’t bad enough in Butte County, where the Camp Fire has left at least 23 dead, nearly burned one town to the ground and forced thousands to evacuate. Now law enforcement officials are confirming reports that the fire has sparked a bit of a crime wave, with looting, individuals under the influence and people pointing weapons at civilians.

Looting

There have been dozens of reports of looting, said Sheriff Kory Honea at an evening news conference Saturday in Chico. Butte County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Miranda Bowersox said deputies have not been able to locate or arrest individuals connected to any of those incidents as of Saturday night.

“To date, we’ve taken a total of 53 reports of suspected looting,” Honea said Saturday. “That’s within the last three days. There have been no arrests because when officers got to the locations, there was nobody there. But I will say this: If we discover looting and evidence of looting, we will investigate and even if we don’t catch you there we will investigate to determine if we can identify you and make an arrest there.”

Honea said the department has taken 66 more calls about “suspicious incidents” including looting at a Sunday night news conference.

Arrests in wildfire-affected areas

Honea mentioned a series of arrests for other crimes in wildfire-affected areas during the news conference Saturday.

“We have had one warrant arrest during the course of this operation involving law enforcement personnel, and one arrest for an individual under the influence,” Honea said.

Honea also said that several people were arrested after attacking and threatening a man by pointing guns at him in Berry Creek Saturday afternoon.

“The reporting party reported that he was being attacked and blocked in his driveway by four people pointing guns at him,” Honea said Saturday.

Deputies responded to the scene and arrested 55-year-old Richard Tracy and 36-year-old Kimberly Jackson, both from Chico and both with outstanding warrants, according to a press release from the department. Also arrested on charges of felony vandalism. was 42-year-old Travis Bond from Berry Creek.

Deputies also arrested 37-year-old Adam Alvarez from Berry Creek on charges of being a felon in possession of a loaded firearm and ammunition, possession of a loaded firearm in a vehicle, and possession of methamphetamine. Alvarez also had three outstanding warrants, according to the release.

“Our deputies responded and located those individuals and took all four of them into custody and they were booked into Butte County Jail,” Honea said of the arrests Saturday.

Theft from fireman’s car puts first responders on alert

A fireman’s uniform was stolen out of his car while he was resting in a Butte County hotel, a Cal Fire media line phone operator said.

The Butte County Sheriff’s Department warned first responders to be careful about leaving their personal belongings untended.

The suspect stole the uniform and wore it in public until law enforcement officers found him and took the uniform back, the operator said. It is unknown if an arrest was made in the case. The Butte County Sheriff’s Department was not immediately available for comment.

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