BOULDER CREEK (CBS SF) – A 54-year-old man, who had been arrested for looting an evacuated home, was charged Friday for intentionally starting the Bear Creek Fire that injured 13 firefighters, burned two homes, forced the evacuation of 150 local residents and charred 391 acres in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Lt. Todd Liberty said Marlon Dale Coy was being held in Santa County jail on looting and several arson charges. One of the counts – arson causing great bodily injury – is enhanced by three counts for great bodily injury to firefighting personnel. He is being held on $800,000 bail.
Liberty said three witnesses had told authorities they saw Coy light the fire as part of a domestic dispute. Sheriff’s officials said Coy set the blaze in response to a dispute with a woman he was dating named Julia Cabibi who owned a property near where the blaze ignited.
Cabibi’s home was destroyed in the fire. Sheriff’s officials said they would like to speak to her but that she is not a suspect in the case.
Coy had been arrested on Oct. 18 for looting a home of a bike, bike riding clothing and $15,000 worth of jewelry. Deputies had stopped him on a local roadway, riding the bike, wearing the clothes and carrying a backpack containing the jewelry.
Deputies re-arrested him on the arson charges on Friday morning.
“Rarely have I seen more reckless actions than those committed by this depraved man,” said Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart. “If not for the heroic efforts by the first responders, he could have been facing homicide charges.”
The wildfire in the Santa Cruz Mountains was reported as 100 percent contained as of Thursday night. Cal Fire said firefighters will shift to patrol status for the next few days to monitor for hot spots.
The blaze, which started on Oct. 16, burned 391 acres, destroyed two homes and four out structures, 17 cars and forced evacuations and road closures.
Liberty said 13 firefighters were injured fighting the fire. Three those were seriously injured and one remained hospitalized on Friday.
Anyone with information on the case or of Cabibi’s whereabouts is asked to call the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Office at (831) 471-1121.