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Two Charged With Starting Massive Eagle Fire

Two suspects were arrested Thursday and accused of lighting the Eagle Fire that blackened 22 square miles of mountainous back-country terrain between Warner Springs and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

One alleged arsonist was taken into custody, while the other was already in jail, said Cal Fire Capt. Mike Mohler.

"A joint law enforcement investigation between CAL FIRE Law Enforcement, Los Coyotes Tribal Police, San Diego County Sheriff and the district attorneys office led to the arrests," Mohler said in a statement. "Jeremy Ortiz, age 23, was arrested and booked into the Vista detention center on the charge of (arson). Jesse Durbin, also 23, was already in the Vista detention center on other unrelated charges and charged also with (arson)."

The Eagle Fire erupted on the night of July 21 about five miles east of Warner Springs, near Eagles Nest Road and Camino San Ignacio. Several thousand ground and airborne personnel spent 10 days battling the flames. No homes were lost, but 18 firefighters suffered minor injuries and cost in excess of $15 million to extinguish.

The flames forced the temporary closures of Lost Valley Boy Scout Camp and Borrego Palm Canyon Campground while pushing to the northeast through rugged highlands on Los Coyotes Indian Reservation and toward desert terrain below.

Authorities have declined to reveal what led them to the two men, who are being held without bail. They are set to make their first court appearance on Monday.

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