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Man arrested in Pajaro Dunes blaze

Modified: Tuesday, Apr 30th, 2013

SUNSET BEACH — A man was arrested Monday afternoon on suspicion of triggering a large grass fire near Pajaro Dunes.

Public Safety Superintendent for State Parks, Mike McMenamy, said emergency officials received multiple calls about a wild land fire at 3:40 p.m. near the Pajaro Dunes condominiums at Sunset State Beach. There were also reports of a man fleeing the area on foot.

State Park Rangers, Cal Fire and Watsonville Police responded. Rangers detained and later arrested a transient man, identified as Earnest Peter Phillips, 47, on suspicion of having an illegal campfire. Cal Fire was able to put the blaze out, and the total area burned was approximately 100 by 100 feet.

No structures were damaged.

“The incident is still under investigation,” McMenamy said “However, it appears that this was not arson but an illegal campfire that got out of control."

Witnesses placed Phillips at the fire and told authorities he tried to put the fire out before fleeing on foot.

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