Tulare County man arrested in 3-year arson investigation

Jose Sanchez, 44, was arrested in Coalinga for starting four forest fires along Hwy 198


COALINGA, Calif. – A local man who allegedly started forest fires along Highway 198, possibly for the last four years, was arrested in Fresno County last week.

Cal Fire Fresno Unit law enforcement officers arrested 44-year-old Jose Sanchez. a longtime resident of Tulare County on Oct. 22, 2019 after a three-year long investigation. Sanchez was booked into the Fresno County jail on four counts of arson to forest lands, and four counts of setting fires during a state of emergency declared by the Governor.

The fires were located on the Highway 198 corridor, from Coalinga in Fresno County to Kings City in Monterey County. His crimes may go back even further as Cal Fire noted that suspicious fires were occurring along the Highway 198 corridor as far back as 2015. His bail is set at $290.000.

“We would like to take this opportunity to remind the public how important it is for everyone to be vigilant and report suspicious activity to authorities,” Cal Fire said in a released statement. “If you see someone starting a fire, call 911. If you see a suspicious person, vehicle or any other activity prior to, during or after a fire, write down the information and call the police or fire department.”

Any person with information related to an arson fire is urged to contact the Cal Fire Arson Hotline at 800-468-4408. Callers can remain anonymous.

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