February 27, 2021
Trash truck driver accused of starting deadly Calimesa fire
CALIMESA (INT) A 15-month-long investigation into a wildfire that burned through a mobile home park destroying 72 homes and outbuildings and killing two people has resulted in a criminal case.

CalFire announced late Monday that it has arrested Antonio Ornelas-Velazquez, the driver of a CR&R trash truck who dumped a load of burning refuse on a Calimesa roadside. Powerful Santa Ana winds quickly spread the smoldering trash into nearby grass and weeds.

The October 2019 fire was dubbed the Sandalwood Fire as it spread across 1,000 acres and eventually into the Villa Calimesa Mobile Home Park.

CalFire said it arrested Ornelas-Velazquez February 13th on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter and unlawfully causing a fire with great bodily injury.

CalFire referred questions to the Riverside County DAs office which will decide whether to bring the case to court.
Story Date: February 16, 2021
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