On Thursday, Feb. 25, the Irvine Police Department confirmed it used drone surveillance to apprehend an arson suspect that intentionally set multiple fires near the 261 Toll Road near Irvine.
A series of fires broke out near the Interstate 5 and the 261 Toll Road, between the hours of 6:20 p.m. and 8:20 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 24, piquing the interest of Irvine residents and law enforcement.
The Irvine Police Department identified Jose Antonio LozanoMartinez as the suspect seen in drone footage, “intentionally set multiple fires along the 261 Toll Road,” according to an Irvine Police Department Facebook post on Feb. 25.
The post indicated that the Irvine Police Department responded to two consecutive fires along the 261 Toll Road at Interstate 5, two hours apart from one another.
The first fire, which was extinguished by the Orange County Fire Authority, was near the 261 Toll Road. The second was near Bryan Ave., near an apartment more than one hour later.
“As OCFA was extinguishing the second fire, IPD officers deployed a drone to look for additional fires and anyone in the area who may have been responsible,” according to the IPD Facebook post.
On Thursday, Feb. 25, the Irvine Police Department released dramatic video via social media, showing the result of the Irvine arson suspect’s damage, and how IPD used a drone to apprehend a suspected arsonist near the 261 Toll Road in Irvine.
The suspect was found hiding in brush.
“As the drone operator was checking the area, he located a man starting a fire in the brush along the 261 Toll Road near Irvine Blvd. The drone operator directed IPD officers and OCFA fire investigators to the area where the man was hiding and he was taken into custody without incident,” IPD released in a statement.
“Irvine City Council Member Anthony Kuo said drones have become a welcome addition to the Irvine Police Department. The last we saw of this was about a year ago when a young man was setting dumpster fires in certain apartment and condo communities,” Kuo wrote in a text message to Irvine Weekly. “Like that situation, Irvine Police’s drones were a big help.”
While these fires were started intentionally, the city of Irvine is no stranger to wildfire.
In October, the Silverado fire caused the evacuation of more than 90,000 residents between the cities of Irvine and Lake Forest. Paired with the Bond fire, wildfires have burned more than 15,000 acres in Irvine’s Santiago Canyon in less than six months.
The Irvine arson suspect, now identified as LozanoMartinez is awaiting trial in Orange County Jail.