A man accused of setting the massive “Clayton Fire” is a former inmate firefighter who may be a serial arsonist, police say.
Police arrested Damin Pashilk, 40, on Aug. 16; Pashilk, of Clearlake, faces 17 counts of arson in connection with the 4,000-acre Clayton fire in Lake County, California, as well as other recent fires, says The Los Angeles Times.
The Clayton Fire, which ignited Saturday, has turned into an inferno that swept through thousands of acres, destroying homes and other buildings. Firefighters are still struggling to contain it.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Pashilk Has a Lengthy Criminal History & Worked as an Inmate Firefighter
Pashilk has more than 20 times on his arrest record in norther California, The Los Angeles Times says, and he “worked as an inmate firefighter while serving a five-year prison term for drug and weapons convictions years ago.”
Through that program, he was trained at a California correctional center. Pashilk was paroled in 2007 but has had six parole violations, said the newspaper.
Lake County Magazine said Pashilk has 12 prior arrests since 2005 in that County, including a 2009 arrest “after a traffic stop on a friend led officers to his house. He pointed a loaded handgun at them at that time.”
On Facebook, Pashilk had liked a page devoted to Lake Country sheriff’s scanner updates.
SFGate says Pahilk’s prior arrests include drugs, firearms and evading police.
2. At Least 175 Structures Have Burned in The Massive Clayton Fire & His Own Rental Home Burned Down in The Past
As of Aug. 16, the Clayton Fire in Clearlake, California had burned 4,000 acres, burned at least 175 structures, and “is threatening nearly 1,500 more,” said NBC, which said Pashlik would be arraigned on Aug. 17.
Lake County Magazine says a Go Fund Me site was established for Pashilk and his then girlfriend in 2013 when their house burned down. “They raised over $1,200 from members of the community for rent and utilities, and were staying at the Youth Center in Clearlake at the time,” said the magazine, noting the site remained active.
The Go Fund Me site says Pashilk’s then girlfriend was the former foster child of the site creator and was staying in a camper. The site asked for clothing in men’s and women’s sizes.
3. Pashilk Is Accused of Setting 17 Fires & Police Say He May be a Serial Arsonist
Authorities say they think Pashilk is a serial arsonist who has set as many as 17 fires, said NBC.
Lake County, where the recent fire occurred, has been “ravaged” over the years by wildfires, says SFGate.
4. Pashilk Was Under Surveillance, Worked as a Construction Worker & Posted a Nazi Symbol on Facebook
NBC said that Pashilk was under investigation for more than a year, including surveillance. He has worked as a construction worker, NBC said.
SFGate says Pashilk has worked odd jobs over the years.
Lake County magazine says Pashilk’s Facebook cover photo “shows the white supremacist symbol of the double lightning bolts used by the SS in Nazi Germany.”
Pashilk has three Facebook pages. He wrote a year ago about transformers: “I know when I was a kid I loved transformers but as an adult and in reality I hate them and it seems that anytime I let someone in they turn out to be one . F—ing world is filled with them ugh!!!” He also wrote about receiving threats, saying, “Dry threats from lame ass wannabees are funny but nevertheless there still threats and to be taken seriously.”
5. The Suspect Was Born in San Francisco & Is Being Held on $5 Million Bail
SFGate says Pashilk was born in San Francisco and spent most of his life in Napa and Lake counties. He was being held at the Lake County Jail in lieu of $5 million bail, said SFGate.
On Facebook, he said he was self-employed and from Napa, California. He wrote about boredom, fishing, and relationships.