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Auburn CA man arrested for arson in Sierra Fires

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Firefighters work Monday, August 22, 2022 to contain two wildfires, later named the Berry Fire, southwest of the town of Sattley, Calif., in Sierra County. A Placer County man has been arrested on suspicion of arson in connection with the fires.

Tahoe National Forest

Investigators have arrested a Placer County logging company water truck driver who is charged with starting two wildfires Monday in Sierra County.

Dillon Schneider, 25, of Auburn was arrested on suspicion of arson, possession of an incendiary device, being a prohibited person possessing ammunition and a firearm and possession of stolen property, the office of the Sierra County Sheriff in a Facebook post.

Schneider was booked into Nevada County Jail Tuesday night, where he remained in custody Thursday with his bail set at $500,000. Jail records indicate that Schneider faces 10 felony counts stemming from his arrest.

The wildfires, later called the Berry Fire, were reported late Monday afternoon southwest of the town of Sattley in Sierra County. Sheriff officials said Schneider at the time was working in the area as a tank truck driver for a logging company.

Initially, 911 callers reported seeing two columns of smoke south of Yuba Pass near Berry Creek. The Sierra County Fire Department and Tahoe National Forest Service Fire Department responded.

The two wildfires, each about 1/4 acre, were 100 yards apart and burning at a slow pace, Tahoe National Forest Service officials initially reported. Ground and aircraft firefighters launched rapid suppression action and had the fires 100% contained, the Forest Service announced at 8:13 p.m. Monday.

The firefighters stayed all night looking for points of combustion. Forest Service officials said the fires have burned 0.2 acres, the total area with updated mapping.

The Forest Service determined the fires were suspicious, and the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office took the lead in the investigation. As evidence was gathered and witnesses were interviewed, investigators identified Schneider as “a person of interest” in the investigation.

Schneider was first arrested late Monday afternoon on suspicion of being a prohibited person in possession of ammunition and a firearm. After investigators searched Schneider’s vehicles, investigators had probable cause that Schneider was responsible for starting the fires and arrested him on suspicion of arson, sheriff’s officials said.

Investigators have asked anyone with information about these wildfires to call the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office at 530-289-3700.

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Rosalio Ahumada writes breaking news stories related to crime and public safety for The Sacramento Bee. He is fluent in Spanish and has worked as a journalist in the Central Valley since 2004.