Sunday, May 28, 2023

19-Year-Old Ukiah Man Booked for Arson Accused of Lighting Two Vegetation Fires Near Redwood Empire Fairgrounds


The following is a press released issued by the Ukiah Police Department. The information has not been proven in a court of law and any individuals described should be presumed innocent until proven guilty:

Thomas Hidalgo [Mugshot from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Booking Logs]

On April 13, 2021 at approximately 5:59 PM, UPD Officers were dispatched to the area  of the pocket park, which is located along the south edge of E. Perkins St. at Doolan  Creek, for a reported vegetation fire. Officers arrived and observed an approximately  15’x15’ area of dried grass, within Doolan Creek, that was actively burning. Officers  utilized their fire extinguishers to put the fire out. While at the scene, UVFD personnel  arrived and advised they had responded to another vegetation fire within the previous 30  minutes. This fire was located along the railroad tracks and was just east of the Redwood  Empire Fairgrounds (REF). Based on the two fires occurring near the railroad tracks and  within a short amount of time; UVFD personnel and Officers suspected they may have  been intentionally started. UVFD personnel determined both fires to have be  intentionally set, as there was no other apparent source of the fire.  

Officers began checking the area and while doing so were contacted by a resident, in the  200 block of E. Clay Street. The witness advised he observed a male walking along the  railroad tracks, carrying a propane torch and stated they saw the male light a flower and an area of grass on fire. The male was seen stomping the fire out. The witness provided  a description of the male.

Officers continued checking the area and located a male, who matched the description  provided by the witness, in the area of the Grace Hudson Museum. The male was  identified as Thomas Hidalgo. Hidalgo was in possession of a propane torch and had  portions of his clothing burnt. Hidalgo was also found to be in possession of a dirk or  dagger, as defined in 16470 PC, concealed in his waistband. Hidalgo was detained  without incident and made statements confirming he had been in the area of the fire near  REF.  

Officers located the two small fires, which the witness had described. Both of these  small fires were less than 2’x2’ in size. The witness identified Hidalgo as the person they  had seen carrying the torch and starting the two small fires. Hidalgo was found to be on  Summary Probation, from this county for previous misdemeanor violations. A term of  his probation was “obey all laws”. Based on the declared state of emergency, in  California, it was determined a violation of 452(A)(2) PC- Arson during a state of  emergency had also occurred. 

Hidalgo was arrested for the above-mentioned violations and was subsequently booked at  the MCSO Jail. He was held on $50,000.00 bail. 

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UPD would like to thank UVFD personnel for their assistance in the investigation of  these incidents.  

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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