UPDATE: Man Accused of Causing Klamathon Fire Charged with Manslaughter

CAL FIRE announced today that they have arrested the man believed responsible for causing the Klamathon Fire that began on July 5 and burned homes down in the community of Hornbrook.

Posted: Aug 23, 2018 1:39 PM
Updated: Aug 23, 2018 5:47 PM

YREKA, Calif. —

UPDATE: The Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office has released a mug shot of John Skoda, plus a list of his charges.

Skoda has been booked on charges including Arson, Involuntary Manslaughter, Cause of Fire at an Inhabited Structure, Cause of Fire on Property, Failure to Prevent Fire Spread, and Burning Without a Permit.

(Updated 8/23/18 at 3:45 p.m.)


INITIAL REPORT: Authorities have arrested a suspect believed to be responsible for starting the Klamathon Fire, which began on July 5. The fire burned down homes and killed one man in the town of Hornbrook.

CAL FIRE says that their law enforcement officers arrested 32-year-old John Colin Eagle Skoda on Thursday. Investigators determined that Skoda caused the fire by recklessly burning debris.

The Klamathon Fire burned 38,008 acres before its containment, and destroyed much of the Hornbrook community. The fire destroyed 35 homes and 48 structures, with 12 more structures damaged by fire and smoke. 72-year-old Hornbrook resident John Karl Bermel died in the fire and three firefighters were injured.

On July 5, a relatively small grass fire south of Hornbrook spread swiftly to the north, quickly jumping the Klamath River and roaring through the small community. Flames continued north and west throughout the night, shutting down Interstate 5 when they jumped the freeway. Flames reached as far north as Pilot Rock in Oregon, and prompted evacuations in both states and in multiple communities.

At the time, there were rumors that some locals knew who had started the fire, with CAL FIRE insisting that the cause was still under investigation.

The Hornbrook community continues to struggle in the aftermath of the fire, with residents still bereft of drinkable water and a slow recovery and rebuilding process ongoing.

This is a developing story, and NewsWatch 12 will be updating this article as more details emerge.

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