Monday we reported on the dos and don’ts of wildfire season, one of which was don’t use a blowtorch to burn grass or burn piles.
This week, two Morongo Basin men did just that, and one was arrested for arson, and the other accidentally burned down two sheds on his property.
On Wednesday, Alonzo Fretwell, 53, of Joshua Tree, was burning a swath of brush and foliage about 350 feet long with a blowtorch in the 60100 block of Belfair Drive in Joshua Tree. The fire spread into his neighbor’s property, and Yucca Mesa firefighters and Sheriff’s deputies were called about 9:20 p.m. After an investigation, Alonzo Fretwell was arrested on suspicion of arson, booked into the Morongo Basin Jail, and released on no bail.
Thursday, firefighters from Twentynine Palms, Joshua Tree, and the Combat Center were called at 12:30 to the 3500 block of Pearl Springs Avenue for a structure fire. The resident had used a blow torch to burn weeds around one of his three sheds. The middle shed caught fire and spread to a second shed and scorched the exterior of a third shed. Two of the sheds burned to the ground. The County Fire Department reminds residents that propane blow torches are not allowed in county fire jurisdictions for any use. While they may be sold online, they aren’t allowed and have caused multiple vegetation fires.