In the News

Breitbart and Sonoma Sheriff Square-off Over Cause of Northern CA Fires

A firestorm of words took place on Tuesday surrounding the recent Wine Country fires in California.

Breitbart’s account of who or what started the horrific fires is at odds with the Sonoma Sheriff’s opinion about culpability.

Breitbart reports that the fires appear to be due to the actions of an illegal immigrant while the Sonoma Sheriff  says that it’s simply not true.

According to Breitbart, the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) issued a retainer request for a homeless illegal immigrant who was arrested on Sunday under suspicion of arson in the recent California fires that have killed 40 people.

Jesus Fabian Gonzalez, 29 was arrested in Sonoma County after allegedly starting a fire under a bridge where he lives. Gonzalez said he did so in order to stay warm.

However, Breitbart points out that it was approximately 78 degrees when Gonzalez was arrested around 3:00 pmPDT.

Breitbart also indicates that Gonzalez was booked into the Sonoma County jail for suspicion of felony arson. Bail was set at $110,000 according to the Sonoma County Sheriff Public Information Officer.

On Tuesday, Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano had a different explantion of what happened.

Giordano refuted Breitbart’s claims and spoke about the suspect and Breitbart’s accusations (without naming the media organization) during a press conference:

“There is a story out there that he’s the arsonist in these fires. That’s not the case. There’s no indication he’s related to these fires at all. … I wanted to kill that speculation right now, so we didn’t have things running too far out of control.”

Giordano said Gonzalez was arrested on Sunday after he was seen leaving a creek bed with a plume of smoke trailing behind him.

Giordano continued:

“The fire was so small a responding sheriff’s deputy was able to mostly put it out before firefighters arrived. Gonzales, who was reportedly wearing a trench coat, was carrying a lighter and fire extinguisher.

Gonzalez often sleeps in the park and is well-known to law enforcement.

They asked him if he started the fire, and he said he started the fire to warm himself up.

There’s no evidence linking him to any other fires, whose cause remains under investigation.”

Gonzales was arraigned at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday on a single count of felony arson.

Local California reports have been mostly silent about what may have sparked the fires.

Some are pointing their fingers at the giant electric utility company Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E).

The California Public Utilities Commission is investigating whether electrical lines that were knocked down by a windstorm on Oct. 8 was a factor in starting the fires.

The news has negatively impacted the company’s financial outlook.

PG&E shares have dropped more than 18 percent since October 9 amid the possibility that it could be found liable for loss of property and life.

Overall, the Northern California wildfires have scorched more than 220,000 acres and destroyed an estimated 5,700 structures, according to reports.

Californians are looking for answers but many may not be forthcoming anytime soon.



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