SANTA CRUZ COUNTY (CBS SF) – A fire commander at the CZU Lightning Complex Fire in the Santa Cruz Mountains has became a looting victim, a Cal Fire official said Sunday.
“It’s unfortunate and sickening that one of our fire ground commanders in that area, while out taking care of business and directing firefighting crews, somebody entered his vehicle,” Battalion Chief Mark Brunton said at a briefing Sunday morning.
Really? REALLY!?? While a Fire Ground Commander was battling flames, someone stole his wallet from his work truck & DRAINED HIS BANK ACCOUNT! UNCONSCIONABLE! This is another reason why we must stay out of the evacuated zones, not only reducing injury, but keeping ALL LOOTERS OUT! pic.twitter.com/W4YDGR4byv
— CAL FIRE CZU (@CALFIRECZU) August 23, 2020
According to Brunton, a thief entered the commander’s department vehicle, stole personal items, including his wallet and drained his bank account.
“That’s the extent that these people have gone, again this is why we have asked people to evacuate,” Brunton went on to say.
CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES COVERAGE
The latest incident follows the arrests of five suspected looters in the area on Friday.
According to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department, looters were reported in the area of Fall Creek Road on Friday morning. Deputies were dispatched to the area and spotted two suspicious vehicles.
When deputies attempted a traffic stop, one of the cars stopped, but the other attempted to flee and ended up in a ditch.
Jose Gandarilla, Susana Luna, Crystal Araujo, Sara Loretz and Crystle Parstch-Lucchesi were all arrested on numerous charges including looting, grand theft, conspiracy to commit a crime and burglary.
More than 77,000 people in southern San Mateo and northern Santa Cruz counties have been told to evacuate. As of Sunday morning, the fire has burned 71,000 acres (110 square miles) and is 8 percent contained.
Cal Fire said anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office.