July 29--ONO, California -- The search is on for the man suspected of starting the Bully Fire after the Shasta County District Attorney's Office filed involuntary manslaughter charges against him.
Freddie Alexander Smoke III, 37, faces charges in the death of one man in the 12,661 acre blaze in southwest Shasta County and a felony arrest warrant with a $1,000,000 bail has been issued for him. A charred body, later identified by the friend who found him as 38-year-old Jesus Arellano Garcia, was found in the fire path on July 16. The Coroner's Office has not officially identified the victim yet.
Smoke, who is from Sacramento, was allegedly operating a rental truck to deliver supplies to an illegal marijuana grow in the area of Roaring Creek Road and Sargent Road, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Exhaust from the truck caused sparks, setting the dry grass behind the truck on fire, according to Cal Fire. The fire is at 100 percent containment.
Smoke was arrested on charges of growing an illegal marijuana garden as well as charges associated with the fire. However, he was released from the Shasta County Jail after posting $10,000 bail on July 13. His whereabouts are unknown. Cal Fire is following up on leads to determine his location. Smoke has connections in Redding, Sacramento and Los Angeles as well as Indiana and Illinois.
"We're trying to get this out beyond the local media because there are ties to areas throughout California," Cal Fire spokeswoman Cheryl Buliavac said.
Anyone with information about Smoke's whereabouts is encouraged to contact local law enforcement, Buliavac said.
Smoke's first appearance in Shasta County Superior Court was originally scheduled for Aug. 22 on the marijuana and fire charges, and the district attorney's office does not keep track of suspects once they've posted bail and been released from jail.
Cal Fire early estimates put the fire's price tag at $20 million, which includes the base camp at the Shasta District Fairgrounds and personnel on the front lines. According to Cal Fire, 1,239 total personnel responded to the fire, 21 people were injured and 20 structures were destroyed.
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