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3 male juveniles arrested for allegedly setting two fires south of Calipatria

March 29, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

CALIPATRIA — Imperial County Sheriff's Office deputies booked three teen-age boys into juvenile hall on suspicion of arson after they allegedly set vegetation on fire at two locations south of here Wednesday.

Traveling south on Highway 111 near Yocum Road on his way to work, off-duty sheriff's deputy Peter Fuentes observed three male juveniles at a fire near an abandoned structure around 3:30 p.m., said sheriff's Sgt. Pompeyo Tabarez.

When Fuentes, also a reserve firefighter with the Calipatria Fire Department, stopped to talk to the boys, they ran, Tabarez said.

An off-duty U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service officer observed one of the suspects running past his residence and tipped officials to his location, resulting in the suspect's apprehension, Calipatria Fire Chief Chris Hall said.


The other two suspects were also caught and all three were booked into the county's juvenile detention center on suspicion of arson.

Calipatria police and an off-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent were involved in catching the suspects, Tabarez said.

A fourth juvenile arrived at the Sheriff's Office on Wednesday was interviewed and let go, Tabarez said.

The four boys, all 17 years old, live in Calipatria.

The second fire site, also burning vegetation, was about a quarter mile from the smaller, first burn site, Hall said.

Calipatria firefighters responded to the two fires at 3:50 p.m. and were back in the station at 5:35 p.m., Hall said.

No injuries were reported.

Tabarez said the boys apparently set the fires "just for fun."

Investigators are looking into the possibility Wednesday's fires might be related to an earlier suspected arson in Calipatria, Tabarez said.

That fire, at an abandoned commercial building at 340 E. Main St., was set Jan. 21.

Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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