Man arrested for starting devastating California wildfire

August 16, 2016
Damin Anthony Pashilk

Damin Anthony Pashilk

Authorities have arrested a Northern California man for starting the Clayton Fire, which has burned 4,000 acres and more than 175 structures in Lake County. The alleged arsonist is also accused of starting numerous other fires in the Northern California County.

On Monday, Cal Fire law enforcement officers arrested Damin Anthony Pashilk, 40, of Clearlake on 17 counts of arson for fires he started over the last year, according to Cal Fire. The arson charges relating to the Clayton Fire carry enhancements because of the destruction of homes and businesses.

“The residents of Lake County have experienced senseless loss and endured significant hardship over the past year,” said Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott. “Mr. Pashilk committed a horrific crime, and we will seek prosecution to the fullest extent of the law. My thoughts continue to be with the people of Lake County during this difficult time.”

Pashilk allegedly ignited the Clayton Fire Saturday evening near Highway 29 and Clayton Creek. It has threatened about 1,500 structures. The fire is currently 20 percent contained.

Cal Fire is currently battling a total of five fires. Those include the Soberanes Fire near Big Sur and the Chimney Fire in San Luis Obispo County by Lake Nacimiento.

As of Tuesday morning, the Soberanes Fire has burned 76,017 acres and is 60 percent contained, while the Chimney Fire has burned 6,400 acres and is 10 percent contained. Cal Fire has said the Soberanes Fire was caused by a person who lit an illegal campfire. The cause of the Chimney Fire remains under investigation.

Like Lake County, the city of San Luis Obispo has had numerous cases of arson over the last couple years. San Luis Obispo police have arrested two homeless men for starting fires this year, but dozens of suspected arson cases remain unsolved.

Clayton Fire

Clayton Fire



  1. Paso_citizen says:

    I, too, have been thinking about what sort of punishment this person? should be subjected to if he is proven to be guilty.

    Most of the things can not be stated in print. Needless to say, but low-life scum like this (again if proven guilty) should be made an example of.

    He will most likely get a long jail term (at taxpayers expense) while the taxpayers pick up the millions of dollars spent to fight the fire(s). He obviously does not have the money to
    make restitution to those affected by his actions.

    He will very likely get a court-appointed lawyer (more tax payer expense) that will claim he
    had a bad childhood, came from a broken home and is somehow not really responsible for his actions. B_S!

    So for lack of other non-printable punishment – here is my suggestion.
    He is sentenced to county jail – every day from 7AM until 6PM he is required to spend his time cleaning up some of the fire damage. His nights are spent in jail, with minimal benefits – no TV, no library, just jail. If this takes 1 year or if it takes 10 years, so be it.
    This will never make things right, but at least he will be required to see what his actions caused.

    But more likely, given that this is California, he will be treated much differently. Sentence to maybe 2 years in jail, with full facilities (TV, game room, gym, library, 3 meals daily, plus the many other benefits given to prisoners). All because it is the belief that these poor, lost souls must be treated gently and not held physically liable for their actions.

    When, oh when, will our society begin to understand that molly coddling will never solve problems.

    (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
  2. SLO_Johnny says:

    He needs to spend many years replanting trees and helping to clean up after forest fires. If he like fire so much, we should put him to work.

    (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
  3. shelworth says:

    Truly, arson is one of the crimes that should have the death penalty! At the very least life without parole.

    (16) 18 Total Votes - 17 up - 1 down
  4. SLOBIRD says:

    We need to ban lighters and matches, now!

    (4) 12 Total Votes - 8 up - 4 down
  5. slojustice says:

    We need to outlaw large capacity matchbooks, now!

    (14) 42 Total Votes - 28 up - 14 down
    • Mariposa says:

      This is not a time to joke about matchbooks! This fire, and so many others, is beyond horrendous. Some unfortunate things in life seem unavoidable – others are obviously preventable. What Pashilk has done has robbed people of their homes along with all of their treasures and priceless memories. Some human lives have been lost! Pashilk is a picture of just how low people can go! Please don’t make light of it (and no pun intended).

      (9) 13 Total Votes - 11 up - 2 down
    • r0y says:

      @slojustice: your point was not lost on me… ;-)

      (3) 9 Total Votes - 6 up - 3 down
  6. CharlesInCharge says:

    Piece of shit (allegedly).

    (30) 32 Total Votes - 31 up - 1 down

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