PC 451.5 Aggravated Arson
(a) Any person who willfully, maliciously, deliberately, with premeditation, and with intent to cause injury to one or more persons or to cause damage to property under circumstances likely to produce injury to one or more person or to cause damage to one or more structures or inhabited dwellings, sets fire to, burns, or causes to be burned, or aids, counsels, or procures the burning of any residence, structure, forest land, or property is guilty of aggravated arson if one or more of the following aggravating factors exists:
(1) The defendant has been previously convicted of arson on one or more occasions within the past 10 years.
(2) (A) The fire caused property damage and other losses in excess of six million five hundred thousand dollars ($6,500,000).
(B) In calculating the total amount of property damage and other losses under subparagraph (A), the court shall consider the cost of fire suppression. It is the intent of the legislature that this paragraph be reviewed within five years to consider the effects of inflation on the dollar amount stated herein. For that reason, this paragraph shall remain in effect until January 1, 2014, and as of that date is repealed, unless a later enacted statute which is enacted before January 1, 2014, deletes or extends that date.
(3) The fire caused damage to, or the destruction of, five or more inhabited structures.
(b) Any person who is convicted under subdivision (a) shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for 10 years to life.
(c) Any person who is sentenced under subdivision (b) shall not be eligible for release on parole until 10 calendar years have elapsed.
Recent Fresno Arson News and News Article Link:
Fresno had been plagued with a rash of arson fires. The neighborhoods had been in fear of arson fires for many months. However, recent arrests of dramatically decreased the number of arson fires in the Fresno area. Fresno areas arson fires decreased from an average in excess of 40 arson fires a month over the summer months to 12 in January.
Several of the fires happened in Fresno area alleys, along freeways, and under overpasses. Several houses had close calls, being placed in jeopardy of being burned by the fires. The risk to human life, citizens and firefighters is always presents. Fire has been a dangerous we have all lived with since the beginning of time.
Michael Van Valkenburg was arrested after several people spotted him walking away from these fires. Soon thereafter Ruben Ochoa was arrested, and the fires decreased.
The next month, fires in Southeast Fresno slowed down. Investigators arrested 28-year-old Ruben Ochoa for setting fire to a home. He's facing four counts of arson and prosecutors expect to charge him with several more next week. Investigators blame Ochoa for dozens of fires, and they almost stopped his spree months earlier. Others were arrested as well.