Bark Beetle Arson-In-Progress Thwarted by Crestline Residents - Mountain News : News

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Bark Beetle Arson-In-Progress Thwarted by Crestline Residents

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Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2019 9:00 am

At approximately 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 13, a fire began in the vegetation behind the McDonald’s in Crestline. Among the hillside shrubbery stands at least four dead pine tree victims of the bark beetle plague. Unknown residents of Crestline responded quickly to the blaze, working together to extinguish the flames using rakes and a garden hose before the fire could spread beyond a ten-foot diameter.

“Citizens ran back there and put it out very, very, very quickly,” said Lt. Don Lupear of the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s station.

Emergency dispatchers notified first responders and the call was answered by Sgt. Gered Brasheer, who was closest to the fire, responding to a traffic incident.

“[Brasheer] got there even before the fire trucks did. By the time he got there, citizens of Crestline had put out the fire,” Lupear said. “They did a great job.”

While en-route to the incident at the McDonald’s, Brasheer noted that he passed by a man who was walking away from the scene in a way that seemed suspicious. Upon arrival at the scene, Brasheer found that the fire had been put out. He interviewed a potential suspect who had said he had spent the night before in a tent with a person named Matt who was no longer in the area. Brasheer got back into his vehicle and went back around looking for the suspicious man he had seen earlier and was able to find him.

Brasheer apprehended and arrested Matthew Shipman after he was able to match the unique tread pattern of Shipman’s shoes to tracks in the immediate area around the fire. Shipman was a known arsonist on parole for arson and was carrying a torch-style lighter in his pocket. Shipman was also identified by one witness as having been seen leaving the scene of the incident location earlier that morning.

Shipman was arrested for allegedly having set fire to someone else’s belongings behind the McDonald’s and, at the time of press, is currently in custody.

“We want people to know we don’t have an arsonist running around the mountain,” Lupear said.

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