Man charged with arson after allegedly starting Ranch 2 Fire in Angeles National Forest during argument

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A man who has been charged with arson allegedly started the large Ranch 2 Fire in the Azusa area of the Angeles National Forest during an argument, officials said Tuesday.

Osmin Palencia, 36, faces one count each of arson during a state of emergency and arson of a structure or forest, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

Palencia, who lived in a tent near the Mountain Cove community in Azusa, started the blaze Aug. 13 during an argument, according to prosecutors.

It is unclear what the dispute was about or who the defendant was arguing with.

The blaze began in a creek bed near the intersection of San Gabriel Canyon and Ranch roads. It soon spread through the forest, prompting evacuations and the closure of Highway 39.

As of Tuesday, it had burned about 3,900 acres and was 19% contained, according to forest officials.

Palencia turned himself into authorities Sunday after being identified as an arson suspect a day after the fire began.

Palencia remains in custody on $435,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday. He faces a maximum sentence of 23 years in prison if convicted as charged.

The man was previously convicted of dissuading a witness in 2015, according to the DA’s Office.

The case is being investigated by the Azusa police and the Los Angeles County Fire departments.

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