CORONA (CBSLA.com) – Two Lake Elsinore men suspected of using flares to set a 20-acre vegetation fire near the Corona Airport and two other fires near the 71 Freeway late Friday night have been arrested on arson charges.
The two suspects, ages 19 and 20, were captured after being spotted by a Riverside police helicopter shooting aerial flares from a moving vehicle, according to the Corona police.
The incident began at 11:19 p.m., when Corona police and Corona Fire Department crews responded to a seven-acre vegetation fire on Corona Airport property, near Rincon Street and North Smith Avenue. 911 callers described a suspect vehicle and reported seeing possible fireworks being shot into a field, police said.
The blaze grew to 20 acres, but was extinguished before spreading to any structures. Corona firefighters remained on scene through Saturday to ensure the blaze did not reignite amid the high heat and heavy winds.
A Riverside police helicopter which was responding to the Corona Airport property fire discovered two more vegetation fires in the area around the 71 Freeway. It also observed aerial flares being fired from a moving vehicle.
At 11:44 p.m., a Corona police officer stopped a vehicle matching the suspect vehicle near East 6th Street and Rimpau Avenue in Corona. The two occupants were detained and a flare gun and flares were found inside the vehicle, police said.
Meanwhile, the two fires near the 71 Freeway were knocked down by Cal Fire and Chino Valley Fire District crews.
The suspects were booked into the Riverside County Jail on $10,000 each. Police believe the suspects may be responsible for more fires in Riverside County. Their names were not immediately released.