Man Accused of Setting 10 Fires, Burning 40 Acres and Part of Riverside Protected Species Reserve

A man is in custody after allegedly starting 10 fires along the north shore of Diamond Valley Lake in Riverside County over a span of nearly two months, investigators said Tuesday.

Noel Lopez Mejia, 46, was arrested Thursday after a series of fires between Sept. 29 to Nov. 26 were intentionally set, burning approximately 40 acres of wild land in an unincorporated part of the county, according to a Cal Fire news release.

Noel Mejia arrested on Dec. 19, 2019. (Credit: Riverside County Fire Department/Cal Fire)

Noel Mejia arrested on Dec. 19, 2019. (Credit: Riverside County Fire Department/Cal Fire)

Officers believe Mejia entered the foothills along Diamond Valley Lake from the back side of a residential property and hiked up the road and hills, allegedly starting fires as he went along.

The fires burned within the southwestern Riverside Multi-Species Reserve and endangered those protected species, officials said.

Officers transported Mejia to the Cois Byrd Detention Center where he was booked on suspicion of 19 counts, include 10 counts of willfully, unlawfully and maliciously setting fires, and nine counts of setting fires during and within an area of a state of emergency proclaimed by the governor.

His bail is set at #610,000 according to jail records. He is expected to go before a judge on Dec. 27.

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