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CHICO, Calif. — As firefighters and law enforcement continue to search the ruins of Paradise for victims of the Camp Fire's aggressive passage, they are beginning to encounter a new tragedy — individuals suspected of looting the property left behind by evacuees, or what remains of it.
According to the Butte County Sheriff's Office (BCSO), their first two arrests occurred on Monday. Deputies were patrolling the evacuated area of Butte Creek Canyon when a PG&E employee told them that he'd seen two men in the area that "appeared to be looting."
Deputies would find the two men — later identified as 41-year-old Jason Burns of Chico and 48-year-old Michael Salisbury of Reno — run into a house on Quail Run Drive. Entering the house, deputies found both men "hiding in a bedroom" with a .45 caliber handgun, methamphetamine, heroin, drug paraphernalia, and loaded magazines for the gun.
In the garage, deputies found an AR-15 rifle, several chainsaws, and more tools "suspected of being stolen." They also found an ATV outside that had been reported stolen.
Investigators would later discover that the home belonged to a family member of Burns, BCSO said, but Burns did not have permission to be there. They also found that the handgun may have been stolen from a separate home in Paradise.
Both Burns and Salisbury were arrested for theft, drug and weapons charges, among other things. Their bail was set at $89,000 and the case remains under investigation.
The next morning, deputies found 27-year-old Teddy King of Paradise and 38-year-old John Brown of Oroville near the bike path on Skyway. BCSO says that they were found in possession of a laptop that "didn't belong to either of the men," plus a ski mask, drugs and drug paraphernalia. Both were arrested on drug charges.
Around 9 a.m. the same morning, deputies were patrolling in Chico when they spotted a motorhome that had been reported stolen from the Magalia evacuation area. After stopping the motorhome, the deputies found that there "was not a key in the ignition, and the ignition was damaged."
The occupants, 22-year-old Shayne Tinnel Jr. and 42-year-old Tracy Sizer of Magalia were arrested on theft and looting charges.