Arson suspect arrested in Loma Fire that damaged homes, forced evacuations in Santa Barbara

Local news

A 23-year-old man was arrested for allegedly starting a hillside brushfire that triggered evacuation of hundreds of residents in Santa Barbara and damaged two homes, police said Friday.

Victor Hernandez, a local resident, was taken into custody Thursday night after fire investigators noticed someone scrambling down the hill and hiding in brush, a police statement said.

Hernandez was initially arrested at the scene for allegedly being under the influence of a controlled substance.

Investigators determined that five fires were started and Hernandez was booked into jail for arson of an inhabited dwelling, five counts of general arson, being under the influence of a controlled substance and possession of narcotics, police said.

The statement said Hernandez has been a suspect in other recent arson cases in the city.

Hernandez was held on $2 million bail. It was not immediately known if he had a lawyer.

The fire erupted around 9 p.m. Thursday and burned up a steep slope in an area known as TV Hill.

Aided by a decline in winds, firefighters finally stopped the spread of the flames and evacuation orders were lifted around 12:30 a.m. Friday.

Initially estimated at 10 acres, police statement said the fire burned 7 acres.

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