2 Men Receive Jail Sentences of 16 Months and 180 Days in Sparking of Brush Fire Near Morris Dam

Two men have received jail sentences of 180 days and 16 months in jail after pleading no contest to sparking a brush fire near Morris Dam in the San Gabriel Mountains last fall, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced Friday.

Christopher Paul Ortega, 21, of Glendora received a 16-month state prison sentence that he’s expected to serve in jail, according to prosecutors. Francisco Gnaulati, 22, of Covina was sentenced to three years of formal probation but must also serve 180 days in county jail.

A passerby reported the men to authorities after seeing them start the fire on the southbound side of the freeway off of Highway 39 around 3 a.m. on Aug. 7, 2018, sheriff’s officials have said. He provided a description of their physical appearance and the license plate number on the vehicle they were driving.

The blaze burned through nearly a quarter of an acre of land before firefighters managed to put it out with water-dropping helicopters, officials said. The suspects were later detained in Azusa.

Upon his arrest on suspicion of arson, Ortega was held in custody on $285,000 bail. Gnaulati was held on $75,000 bail.

No other details have been released by authorities.

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