|According to the county district attorney's office, Gomez had been arrested after state park officers spotted the fire and received reports of a man throwing rocks at vehicles on a nearby highway. He is said to have been shirtless, sweating and carrying several lighters that matched those found at the fire's point of origin. (Photo by= Getty Images)|
[Asia News = Reporter Reakkana] A US man who started a wildfire that killed 12 endangered California condors and seriously injured a firefighter has been sentenced to 24 years in prison. Prosecutors say, Ivan Gomez, 31, set the Big Sur Dolan fire in August 2020 while illegally cultivating cannabis in the Los Padres National Forest.
The blaze spread across 125,000 acres of forest and was not contained for more than four months. It destroyed 14 structures and an 80-acre condor sanctuary. The facility - built in 1997 to release condors bred in captivity into the wild - was empty at the time but a dozen of the giant vultures is said to have died as the fire spread through the forest. The captive-breeding program inside Los Padres was part of a last-ditch conservation effort in the 1980s when only 22 condors were left in the wild. The species' numbers have since grown.
The Dolan fire, on California's central coast, also nearly took the lives of 14 firefighters after their station was overrun by flames and they were forced to seek emergency shelter. The fire was not contained until New Year's Eve in 2020. On Wednesday, Gomez was found guilty of 16 felony counts, including arson, throwing rocks at vehicles, cultivating cannabis, and 12 counts of cruelty to animals. He will serve his time in state prison.