The Fire That Didn’t Happen

DEVORE—Not quite three weeks after the devastating Blue Cut Fire scorched more than 37,020 acres and resulted in 82,000 residents being evacuated from, or prevented from returning to, their homes, what may have been another inferno in the environs of Cajon Pass appears to have been averted with the arrest last Saturday of a convicted arsonist seemingly intent on touching off similar destruction.
At 9:23 a.m. on September 3, a report of a parked vehicle trespassing on Union Pacific Railroad property near North Cajon Boulevard and Cleghorn Road came in to railroad officials. Union Pacific police were dispatched to the scene, where they encountered Larry Missirilian, of Ontario, parked, authorities said, about ten feet from “a large dry unburned area where the Blue Cut Fire had not burned.”
Railroad officers tentatively observed in the vehicle flammable materials that appeared to be at the ready for ignition in a vulnerable spot. Upon identifying Missirilian, the railroad police determined he was on active parole and an arson registrant. One of the railroad officers contacted the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, which dispatched deputy L. Sandoval to the scene.
Together, the railroad police and Sandoval “conducted a vehicle search and discovered Missirilian had a 5-gallon can of gasoline, large butane torches, lighter fluid, and new cigarette lighters underneath the driver’s seat,” sheriff’s officials said in a statement Sunday. “The items appeared to be set ready for immediate use.”
Missirilian, 61, was arrested for arson and violation of his parole terms. He was booked at West Valley Detention Center.
Missirilian’s arrest came slightly less than a month after the Pilot Fire, which began on August 7 and burned more than 8,000 acres in the San Bernardino Mountains and Summit Valley until August 15, and the far more devastating Blue Cut Fire which began on August 16 and raged out of control until August 22, at which point firefighters had beaten it back to 89% containment, and then fully extinguished it the following day.
At this point it is not known whether Missirilian had a hand in touching off either the Blue Cut or Pilot conflagrations.
Some twelve hours after Missirilian was taken into custody, another fire, referred to as the Ken Fire, began further south down the I-15 corridor near Kenwood Avenue.

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