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I am a Special Agent (“SA”) with the United States
Forest Service (“USFS”), and have been so employed since January 2009. Prior to this assignment, I was employed as a Special
Agent with the United States Department of Transportation, Office of the Inspector General, for approximately seven years, and as a Special Agent with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of the Inspector General, for approximately five years. 2. This affidavit is submitted in support of a criminal
complaint charging JONATHAN CARL JARRELL, CLIFFORD EUGENE HENRY, JR., and STEVEN ROBERT AGUIRRE with the felony offense of Unlawfully Setting Timber Afire and Aiding, Abetting, and Causing Timber to be Unlawfully Set Afire, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1855 and 2. language incorporated herein as Attachment A. 3. The facts set forth in this affidavit are based upon See charging
my personal observations, my training and experience, and information obtained from various law enforcement personnel and witnesses. This affidavit is intended to show merely that there
is sufficient probable cause for the specific crime charged and does not purport to set forth all of my knowledge of or investigation into this matter. Unless specifically indicated
otherwise, all conversations and statements described in this affidavit are related in substance and in part only.
STATEMENT OF PROBABLE CAUSE
On or about January 16, 2014, a wildfire was reported
to be burning in the Angeles National Forest and surrounding public and private lands near Glendora, California, within the County of Los Angeles. 5. The United States Forest Service and the Los Angeles
County Fire Department initiated the fire suppression efforts and established an incident command system. named the Colby Fire. 6. I responded to the Colby Fire as the lead criminal The wildfire was
investigator and fire investigator at approximately 7:30 a.m. on January 16, 2014. 7. As of the evening of January 16, 2014, the Colby Fire
had destroyed over 1,700 acres of federal, state, local, and private lands. The fire had also destroyed five residences,
damaged 17 additional structures, and resulted in injuries to one civilian and two fire fighters. 8. On or about January 17, 2014, I reviewed an incident
report prepared by Officer Nancy Miranda of the Glendora Police Department. From my review of the report, I have learned the
following information: a. At approximately 5:46 a.m. that morning, Officer
Miranda was dispatched to the area of Loraine Avenue and Saga Street in the City of Glendora to begin evacuating residents in the area;
Near Mullaghboy Road and Kilaleck Lane, an
unknown male flagged Officer Miranda down and told her, “there are two guys running in the wash.” c. Officer Miranda responded to the location near
851 East Palm Avenue and observed CLIFFORD EUGENE HENRY, JR. (“defendant HENRY, JR.”) and STEVEN ROBERT AGUIRRE (“defendant AGUIRRE”) running southbound in the wash/drainage leading from the Colby Fire. She ordered the two men to stop running and to
approach her location. d. Officer Miranda observed that both defendants
were wearing backpacks and that their clothes were dirty and disheveled. e. She noted that their shoes were full of wet mud. Officer Miranda noticed that defendant AGUIRRE
strongly smelled of smoke and he had burnt ashes on his clothing. Officer Miranda asked him if he was running from the He stated
fire, and observed that he appeared to be nervous.
that they were camping in the hills, had woken up, and observed the hills to be on fire. Defendant AGUIRRE stated that they ran When Officer Miranda
because they were afraid of the fire.
asked him why he was running in the wash and not in the street, defendant AGUIRRE looked down and did not answer the question. f. Officer Miranda then asked defendant HENRY, JR. He stated
where he and defendant AGUIRRE were running from.
that they were camping in the foothills and woke up to the foothills on fire. fire. He insisted that they did not start the
Officer Miranda also noticed that defendant
HENRY, JR. smelled of smoke and that he had burnt ashes on his clothing. He appeared to be very nervous and repeatedly stated
that they did not start the fire. h. Defendant AGUIRRE was detained and arrested for
possession of stolen credit card (subsequently determined to belong to co-defendant JONATHAN CARL JARRELL). i. Defendant HENRY, JR. was detained and arrested
for state violations related to causing a forest fire. 9. On or about January 17, 2014, I reviewed an incident
report prepared by Officer Zachary Houser of the Glendora Police Department. From my review of the report, I have learned the
following information: a. On January 16, 2014, Officer Houser spoke to
United States Forest Service Fire Prevention Technician (“FPT”) Rick Szlauko. FPT Szlauko told Officer Houser that at
approximately 7:30 a.m. on January 16, 2014, he was driving up Glendora Mountain Road (“GMR”) when he saw defendant JONATHAN CARL JARRELL (“defendant JARRELL”) in an area where the Colby Trail intersects the GMR. Because of defendant JARRELL’s
proximity to the origin of the Colby Fire, FPT Szlauko suspected that he was involved in the fire start. Due to the fire danger,
FPT Szlauko offered defendant JARRELL a ride out of the area. Defendant JARRELL was later detained and arrested as a suspect in the start of the Colby Fire. 10. On or about January 17 and 18, 2014, I listened to
recorded interviews of defendants HENRY, JR., AGUIRRE, and
JARRELL that were conducted by the Los Angeles County Fire Department, Arson Investigations Unit (“LACFD/AIU”), and Glendora Police Department (“GPD”). All three defendants were The
in the custody of GPD at the time of the interviews.
interviews took place at the GPD Station on January 16, 2014, and were conducted by LACFD/AIU Investigator John Quiroz and GPD Detective Matt Fenner. I learned the following relevant
information from listening to the interviews: Interview #1 of defendant CLIFFORD HENRY, JR. a. After being read his Miranda Warnings, defendant
HENRY, JR. consented to being interviewed. b. c. Defendant HENRY, JR. denied starting the fire. Defendant HENRY, JR. then stated that it could
have been his marijuana smoking that started the fire and explained that the fire was about six feet away from him when he woke up. d. Defendant HENRY, JR. said that he knew it was
dangerous to have a fire in dry grass and he has been camping since he was a child. e. Defendant HENRY, JR. denied having any warming or
campfires and denied having knowledge of what started the Colby Fire. f. Defendant HENRY, JR. stated that it has been dry
and the whole ground cover was dead grass. Interview #1 of defendant STEVEN AGUIRRE g. After being read his Miranda Warnings, Aguirre
consented to being interviewed.
Defendant AGUIRRE and JARRELL met HENRY, JR.
after coming from Los Angeles to the Glendora area to visit HENRY, JR. 11. Defendant AGUIRRE, HENRY, JR., and JARRELL left the They
trailhead at approximately 8:00 PM on January 15, 2014. found a flat spot and stopped hiking around 10:00 p.m. a.
Defendant AGUIRRE initially denied that the three
men had started a warming fire that night. b. Defendant AGUIRRE stated that during the night he At about that
woke up to smoke a cigarette with HENRY, JR.
time, in the distance, he noticed a fire “quite a distance away”. Defendant AGUIRRE explained that he grabbed his
belongings and headed downhill. c. be honest. Defendant AGUIRRE finally stated he was going to He stated that he wasn’t planning to go to the spot HENRY, JR. knew the location and They hiked up the
where they camped out.
initiated the discussions to go camping.
mountain, starting about 8:30 p.m. and arrived around 10:30 p.m. After deciding to camp, they made a little warming fire. put rocks around it and built a little campfire. They
They put the
campfire out by putting dirt over the campfire and went to sleep. Defendant AGUIRRE later woke-up and noticed that it was
windy, with gusts intense enough to blow away his blanket. HENRY, JR. was already awake and it was starting to get really cold around 6:00 a.m. (maybe as early as 4:00 a.m.). and AGUIRRE decided to make another campfire. HENRY, JR.
HENRY, JR. was
laying on the ground and defendant AGUIRRE was trying to put
some small twigs in the campfire to keep the campfire burning. JARRELL then took some crumbled paper and put several sheets in the campfire. HENRY, JR. told JARRELL sarcastically “you might JARRELL then ripped the The
as well put the whole thing in there.”
plastic cover off and threw the notebook into the campfire.
paper caught on fire and a gust of wind blew a piece of burning paper into a bush. d. HENRY, JR. said they had to leave.
Defendant AGUIRRE admitted that the fire did not
start from HENRY, JR. smoking cigarettes or marijuana, but rather, it started when the wind blew a piece of burning paper from their campfire into a bush. Interview #1 of Defendant JONATHAN JARRELL e. After being read his Miranda Warnings, defendant
JARRELL consented to being interviewed. f. Defendant JARRELL stated that he and AGUIRRE live HENRY, JR. lives with his aunt
on the streets in Los Angeles.
in the area where the fire occurred. g. Defendant JARRELL and AGUIRRE decided to visit
HENRY, JR. and go to the mountains. h. Since he and AGUIRRE were homeless and really
didn’t have anywhere particular to go, they decided to go hike with HENRY, JR. stopping. i. They stopped and had a campfire. Defendant They hiked for about one or two hours before
JARRELL explained that on Thursday (January 16, 2014) morning, a huge gust of wind came and “that’s when it all happened.” Defendant JARRELL, AGUIRRE, and HENRY, JR. tried to put the fire
out but were not successful.
Defendant JARRELL stated that he
tried to call 911 but there was no cell phone reception and he couldn’t make the call. j. Defendant JARRELL stated that he was told by
“some other people up there” that it was “okay” to have a campfire. These people reportedly told defendant JARRELL that These
they have been having campfires up there for a long time.
people were located “all the way at the top” (of the mountain). k. Defendant JARRELL said that their first campfire
went off without incident. l. Sometime between 5:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.,
Defendant JARRELL woke-up and noticed that the weather was cold and windy. He recalled seeing HENRY, JR. and AGUIRRE collecting Defendant JARRELL stated that
wood sticks for the campfire.
HENRY, JR. and AGUIRRE lit the second campfire with a lighter. m. They were trying to keep the second campfire
going by putting wood collected from nearby into the campfire. AGUIRRE then asked defendant JARRELL if he had any paper. Defendant JARRELL told AGUIRRE that he had a notebook and AGUIRRE told him to use that. HENRY, JR. then told JARRELL to
take the plastic off his notebook before putting it in the fire. n. Defendant JARRELL then took the plastic cover
off the notebook and put the paper notebook into the campfire. Defendant JARRELL said a gust of wind came out of nowhere and blew the burning paper into a bush. All three men got up and
tried to stomp out the bush that was on fire. o. The three men then ran away from the fire.
Interview #2 of Defendant CLIFFORD HENRY, JR. p. Defendant HENRY, JR. was asked if he recalled his
earlier Miranda warnings, to which he answered in the affirmative. q. Defendant HENRY, JR. stated that he was not going
to cover for anyone anymore. r. Defendant HENRY, JR. admitted that the three men There
had a campfire earlier in the night and had put it out. was no wind during the first campfire. s.
Defendant HENRY, JR. admitted that sometime He denied
before sunrise, they started up a second campfire.
starting the second campfire, stated that JARRELL or AGUIRRE started the second campfire. Defendant HENRY, JR. said he heard
a ripping sound and a few minutes later, “Oh Shit. There’s a fucking bush on fire […].” t. Defendant HENRY, JR. said he then got up and
tried to help AGUIRRE and JARRELL stomp out the fire. u. Defendant HENRY, JR. explained that before the
fire escaped, he had told JARRELL to rip out a couple of pages from his notebook and place the paper into the second campfire. Defendant HENRY, JR. denied telling JARRELL to put the whole notebook in the campfire, but admitted that JARRELL did throw the whole notebook into the campfire. v. Defendant HENRY, JR. stated that they almost
managed to put the escaped fire out, but gusts of wind made it larger.
Defendant HENRY, JR. acknowledged the reckless He also acknowledged
nature of putting paper into the campfire.
the dangers of having a campfire without water to put it out, without having the right means to contain the campfire, having the campfire in the wrong weather conditions, and basically doing several stupid little things. x. Defendant HENRY, JR. admitted that he thought
putting paper in the campfire was not a good idea y. With respect to the first campfire, defendant
HENRY, JR. admitted he started making the rock ring and, using small twigs, lit the campfire with his lighter. z. Defendant HENRY, JR. stated that it was crazy to
have a campfire where such dry grass and dry wood was on the ground. Interview #2 of Defendant JONATHAN JARRELL aa. Defendant JARRELL acknowledged that he recalled
and understood the Miranda warning that had been given to him earlier and did not want the warnings re-read to him. consented to being interviewed again. bb. Defendant JARRELL stated that he felt like he was He
going to die during the Colby Fire. cc. Defendant JARRELL denied knowing anything about
fire and starting fires. dd. Defendant JARRELL stated that he saw other people
with a campfire, but wasn’t sure if campfires were allowed because they (JARRELL, AGUIRRE, and HENRY, JR.) were not actually in a campground.
Defendant JARRELL did not see any signs about
fire restrictions. ff. Defendant JARRELL acknowledged that California
weather had been warm and with minimal rains. gg. Defendant JARRELL stated that building the rock
ring for the campfire was HENRY, JR.’s idea to prevent the campfire from getting out of control. Interview #2 of Defendant STEVEN AGUIRRE hh. Defendant AGUIRRE was interviewed a second time
by GPD Detective Fenner and LACFD/AIU Investigator Quiroz. Because the second interview was a continuation of the first interview, he was not re-Mirandized. ii. Defendant AGUIRRE stated you don’t have to be an
avid outdoorsman to know that fire is dangerous. jj. During the evening of January 15, 2014, HENRY,
JR. told him that they needed to get high enough up the Colby Trial so that people could not see them and then they could have a small warming fire. kk. Defendant AGUIRRE acknowledged being in forest
areas in the past and seeing signs regarding brush fire warnings during dry periods. ll. Defendant AGUIRRE acknowledged that it had not
rained lately, and that HENRY, JR. had mentioned to him that because it had not rained in a while it was important to keep the fire small, but having fun prevailed.
Defendant AGUIRRE stated that HENRY, JR. had
mentioned that the grass was real dry and to make sure the embers from the fire didn’t fly out into the bushes. nn. Defendant AGUIRRE is familiar with the term “Red
Flag Warnings” and knows it refers to brush fire warnings. oo. Defendant AGUIRRE admitted that they knew they
weren’t supposed to have a campfire, but no one opposed having one. pp. Defendant AGUIRRE admitted to placing wood into
the second campfire. Interview #3 of Defendant CLIFFOR HENRY, JR. qq. Defendant HENRY, JR. was interviewed a third time
by GPD Detective Fenner and LACFD/AIU Investigator Quiroz. Because the third interview was a continuation of the first interview and second interviews, he was not re-Mirandized. rr. Defendant HENRY, JR. admitted that he had seen
signs in California about not having fires. ss. Defendant HENRY, JR. acknowledged that it was his
idea to build the fire ring. Interview #3 of Defendant JONATHAN JARRELL tt. Defendant JARRELL was interviewed a third time by He did
GPD Detective Fenner and LACFD/AIU Investigator Quiroz.
not rescind his earlier consent to being interviewed after being advised of his Miranda rights during his first and second interviews. uu. Defendant JARRELL did not do anything for the
fire except throw paper into the second campfire.
Defendant JARRELL explained that HENRY, JR. and
AGUIRRE wanted to have a campfire and that he did not want to be there. He was “egged on” by HENRY, JR. to keep going up the He would have left when the first campfire was
burning, but he did not know the way off the mountain. ww. both fires. xx. Defendant JARRELL recanted his earlier story Defendant JARRELL stated that HENRY, JR. started
about meeting a couple having a campfire along the trail that said it was “okay” to have campfires along the trail. He stated
that he lied because he was afraid and was stressing out in jail. yy. Defendant JARRELL stated that with respect to the
second campfire, they were all present and started making the fire. The weather was cold and he just wanted to warm up. A
notebook got put in the fire and an ember blew out of the ring due to a gust of wind. zz. The ember supposedly started the fire
Defendant JARRELL stated that he did not think
the fire could get so out of control. Interview #3 of Defendant STEVEN AGUIRRE 12. On or about January 18, 2014, I interviewed defendant Prior to the interview,
AGUIRRE at the Glendora Police Station.
I provided defendant AGUIRRE with verbal and written Miranda warnings. He waived his Miranda rights, consented to being
interviewed by me, and provided me with the following relevant information:
During the evening of January 15, 2014, he and He noticed that
JARRELL followed HENRY, JR. to the trailhead.
the trail had various warning signs, but did not recall any fire warning signs. There were no gates or signs to indicate the
trail was private or otherwise precluded from public use. b. HENRY, JR. wanted to make sure they hiked high
enough up the trail to avoid detection of their campfire. c. HENRY, JR. arrived at the spot they planned to HENRY,
camp first, and started to build a fire ring with rocks. JR. knew that if an ember was emitted from their fire,
everything would burn up because it was dry in the mountains. HENRY, JR. said that they really needed to shelter their fire. d. HENRY, JR. said the fire ring was too small, so
defendant AGUIRRE went to get more rocks. Interview #4 of Defendant JONATHAN JARRELL 13. On or about January 19, 2014, I interviewed defendant
JONATHAN JARRELL at the Los Angeles County Sherriff’s Department, Men’s Central Jail. Prior to the interview,
defendant JARRELL was read and provided written Miranda warnings. He waived his Miranda rights and consented to be During the interview, he provided me with
interviewed by me.
the following relevant information: a. It was HENRY, JR.’s idea for them to go hiking They went to the Cobly
and spend the night in the mountains.
Trailhead at the end of Lorraine Avenue. b. He saw signs at the trailhead, but did not see
any warnings prohibiting fires.
He believed the trail to be a public trail, but
did not believe the trail to be maintained by the federal government. d. He did not think having a campfire was a good
idea and did not know if they were even allowed on the trail. e. HENRY, JR. told him that it was allowable to have
a campfire, and that he had started them along the trail on prior occasions. f. Defendant JARRELL told me that his contribution
to the first campfire was to bring two rocks to build the fire ring. AGUIRRE and HENRY, JR. collected most of the wood and
burnable items. g. HENRY, JR. told him that to have a campfire, they He
had to be far up the trail and away from the homes.
explained that this was not due to potential detection by the police, but rather as a safety buffer should something happen (with the fire). Interview #4 of Defendant CLIFFORD HENRY, JR. 14. On January 17, 2014, I interviewed defendant CLIFFORD Prior to the
HENRY, JR. at the Glendora Police Department.
interview, he was read and provided written Miranda warnings, which he waived. He consented to the interview, and provided me
with the following relevant information: a. He was not aware if the Colby Trail was in the
national forest or not, but admitted that it could be. b. He stated that he did not want the fire, and
explained that starting a fire was “fucking dumb.”
He believed the Colby Trail was a public trail
maintained by the city (of Glendora). d. He stated that they had to go high up the trail He
to hide their campfire to prevent the police from coming.
believed that if they were caught with the campfire, they would be fined or kicked out of the area since it was illegal to have a campfire there. e. He told AGUIRRE and JARRELL the size and type of
wood they needed to burn to prevent embers from blowing out of the pit. 15. On or about January 16, 2014, after being advised of
his Miranda rights, waiving them, and agreeing to talk with GPD officers and LACFD/AIU investigators, defendant CLIFFORD HENRY, JR. was escorted back to the Colby Trail and showed the officers the precise location where he, AGUIRRE, and JARRELL built the fire ring and started the two campfires on the evening of January 15 and morning of January 16, 2014. 16. I am aware that United States Forest Service Fire
Investigator Christopher Fry was also present at that location, conducting a wildland fire origin and cause determination, when defendant CLIFFORD HENRY, JR. showed the officers the location of the fire ring from which the wildland fire started. 17. Over the past few days, I have spoken extensively with I have also reviewed
Investigator Fry regarding his findings.
his Wildland Fire Origin and Cause Supplemental Incident Report. As a result, I am aware that Investigator Fry has determined the following:
The origin of the wildland fire was at a point
near the fire ring built by defendants HENRY, JR., AGUIRRE, and JARRELL. b. The cause of the wildland fire was embers from
the campfire that set dry grass adjacent to the campfire ring afire. c. Both the campfire ring and the origin of the
wildland fire are clearly located on federal lands within the Angeles National Forest. 18. Based upon my training, experience, and review of the
applicable Forest Service regulations, I am aware that the two campfires started by defendants HENRY, JR., AGUIRRE, and JARRELL on the evening of January 15, 2014, and the morning of January 16, 2014, were constructed, maintained, and started without the authority of the United States Forest Service, and were therefore illegal fires in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1855. 19. Specifically, I am aware that Pacific Southwest
Regional Order 91-1 prohibits wood and charcoal fires to be built, maintained, or attended outside a developed recreation site. The location where the defendants built, maintained, and
attended the campfire that caused the Colby Fire is not within any developed recreation site. A developed recreation site
typically consists of official campground and picnic areas constructed and maintained by the United States Forest Service. As a result, any wood or charcoal fire built, maintained, or attended in that location is an illegal fire, in violation of applicable Forest Service regulations and 18 U.S.C. §1855.
III. CONCLUSION 20. For all the reasons described above, there is probable
cause to believe that on or about January 16, 2014, JONATHAN CARL JARRELL, CLIFFORD EUGENE HENRY, JR., and STEVEN ROBERT AGUIRRE did Unlawfully Set Timber Afire and did Aid, Abet, and Cause Timber to be Unlawfully Set Afire, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1855 and 2.
Wayne M. Nomi, Special Agent United States Forest Service
Subscribed to and sworn before me this ____ day of January, 2014.
HONORABLE CHARLES F. EICK UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
ATTACHMENT A Statement of the Charges [18 U.S.C. § 1855, 2] On or about January 16, 2014, in Los Angeles County, within the Central District of California, defendants JONATHAN CARL JARRELL, CLIFFORD EUGENE HENRY, JR., and STEVEN ROBERT AGUIRRE did willfully and without authority set on fire timber, underbrush, grass and other inflammable material upon lands owned by the United States within the Angeles National Forest, namely, by starting an unauthorized campfire.
* * * * *
On or about January 16, 2014, in Los Angeles County, within the Central District of California, defendants JONATHAN CARL JARRELL, CLIFFORD EUGENE HENRY, JR., and STEVEN ROBERT AGUIRRE, did knowingly and willfully aid, abet, counsel, command, induce, procure, and cause the commission of the offense alleged above.