Witnesses help capture man accused of starting grass fire in Selma, police say


SELMA, California. (KSEE/KGPE) – A man has been arrested after police say he started a brush fire along Highway 99 Saturday morning in Selma.

Around 10:40 a.m., the Selma Police Department says someone called 911 after they spotted a man lighting dry grass on fire on the side of an on-ramp on the 99.

Police say witnesses using the on-ramp stopped to confront the man, later identified as 35-year-old Rene Castellanos, after seeing him start the fire.

After he was confronted, police say Castellanos ditched the fire as it was actively burning and took off on foot.

One of the witnesses grabbed a container of water from the bed of his truck and quickly extinguished the fire before it could spread to the rest of the grass on the side of the on-ramp.

When officers arrived, they spoke with the witnesses who gave them a description of the alleged arsonist.

Once hearing the description, police say officers realized they had seen Castellanos in the area wearing similar clothing earlier in the day.

Officers went to his nearby home, where they say they detained Castellanos and found him with a lighter and a torch.

Police say a witness was able to positively identify Castellanos as the person they saw lighting the fire.

Castellanos was arrested for felony arson and has been booked at the Fresno County Jail.

The Selma Police Department has thanked the witnesses for coming forward to report the crime and for putting out the fire before it could cause any serious damage.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

July 23 2021 05:30 pm

CBS47 On Your Side

Do you have a problem that you need help solving? Contact CBS47 and let us be On Your Side.

Phone: 559-761-0383
Email: OnYourSide@cbsfresno.com