A man was arrested Monday for allegedly sparking a wildfire that exploded over the weekend, destroying more than 175 homes, businesses, and other structures in a Northern California town, authorities say. Lake County Sheriff Brian Martin says Damin Anthony Pashilk, 40, was arrested Monday on 17 counts of arson and is in jail, the AP reports. He's suspected in numerous fires in Lake County over the past year. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ken Pimlott says the blaze in the town of Lower Lake has caused over $10 million in damages and left dozens of families homeless.
"Mr. Pashilk committed a horrific crime and we will seek prosecution to the fullest extent of the law. My thoughts continue to be with the people of Lake County during this difficult time," Pimlott says. On Monday, the wind-whipped fire spread to more than 6 square miles in the Lower Lake area about 90 miles north of San Francisco. The blaze is just 5% contained, though fire officials said late Monday that no other structures were under direct threat. In Lower Lake, firefighters couldn't protect all of historic Main Street, and buildings such as the Habitat for Humanity office burned. The organization was raising money to help rebuild homes in nearby communities destroyed in three fires last year. (One of those fires, which was among the worst in California's history, was blamed on a faulty hot tub.)