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Suspect arrested on charge of starting Robbers Fire

28-year-old Sacramento County man reportedly recklessly caused fire with pyrotechnic device
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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UPDATE: 7:10 P.M. JULY 20 - A Sacramento man was arrested Friday on suspicion of starting the Robbers Fire with what is being described as a pyrotechnic device. Bryon Mason, 28, was booked into Placer County Jail after he was arrested at 2:48 p.m. Friday in Sacramento County on a single charge related to starting the fire. The arrest followed an investigation that began soon after the fire broke out between Colfax and Foresthill on July 11. Mason was being held at Placer County Jail in North Auburn on a single count of unlawfully and recklessly causing a fire, Cal Fire Unit Chief Brad Harris said at a news conference Friday in Colfax. "We received outstanding support from the public and a number of tips early on," Harris said. ?We feel it?s a very strong case.? The Penal Code section Mason is charged under states a person is guilty of unlawfully causing a fire if the blaze is recklessly set and causes any structures, forest land or property to be burned. Harris said a conviction could lead to prison time of between two and seven years. The Robbers Fire broke out the afternoon of July 11 on the side of a road near Yankee Jims Bridge between Foresthill and Colfax. It was close to being fully contained Friday. The fire footprint spread to more than 2,600 acres and costs for suppression have reached about $13 million, according to Cal Fire. The announcement of the arrest was made jointly by Cal Fire and the Placer County Sheriff's Office, which partnered in the investigation. Lt. Mark Reed, Sheriff's Office investigation commander, also praised the public in providing tips leading to Friday's arrest. Mason was arrested without incident at his Watt Avenue-area workplace. "The public was great and our detectives and the fire investigators worked well together," Reed said. One home and four outbuildings were destroyed, 350 people were evacuated from their homes and a dozen minor injuries to firefighters were reported. The investigation has been taking place as the fire continued to burn. A total of more than 2,200 fire personnel were working to control the fire at its height on Monday. Cal Fire is asking any potential witnesses or anyone with information about the fire to call their arson hotline at (800)468-4408. Callers can remain anonymous. Little was being released about how the start of the fire took place and what type of device was used. Reed said more information would be forthcoming as the case progresses to court. A search warrant was being served in Sacramento County on Friday in relation to the case. Cal Fire and sheriff?s officials also declined to say whether more arrests could take place. Harris declined to give details on the suspected pyrotechnic device used, including whether it could be considered fireworks - which are illegal in unincorporated areas of Placer County as well as Auburn and Colfax. A pyrotechnic device is defined as anything that utilizes fire to make light and sound, he said.