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Man charged with starting Weed, Calif., fire

WEED, Calif. — A Northern California man was arrested Saturday on charges of starting a wildfire that devastated the lumber town of Weed last month, authorities said.

Ronald Beau Marshall, 24, was taken into custody on felony counts of arson to inhabited structures, property and forest land, Sgt. Justin Mayberry, a police spokesman, said.

The Siskiyou County District Attorney's office filed a criminal complaint against Marshall on Friday. A judge issued a warrant for Marshall's arrest, which came after a three-week investigation by police, sheriff and California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection investigators.

"As fire danger remains extreme across California, arson puts life, property and natural resources at risk and we will continue to dedicate as many resources as needed to track down and prosecute those who purposely threaten our state," CalFire Director Ken Pimlott said in a statement.

Mayberry said he couldn't discuss what led to Marshall's arrest because the investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.

Marshall was being held on $250,000 bail. A phone number listed for the young man's home in Weed was disconnected.

Marshall had previous charges for speeding, petty theft, burglary and receiving or concealing stolen property, court records show.

The wind-driven fire raced through a hillside neighborhood in this scenic town of 3,000 on Sept. 15, forcing everyone to evacuate and destroying 157 structures — most of them houses.

The town's sawmill, one of Siskiyou County's largest employers, was among the structures damaged in the blaze.

Ronald Beau Marshall