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Man sentenced to 24 years in prison for starting 2020 Dolan Fire

MONTEREY COUNTY – A 31-year-old man has been sentenced to 24 years in prison for starting the Dolan Fire near Big Sur in Monterey County in 2020, county prosecutors said Wednesday.

Ivan Gomez was found guilty last month of arson, throwing rocks at a vehicle, cultivating marijuana and 12 counts of cruelty to animals for killing multiple condors that died in the blaze, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Dolan Fire arson suspect Ivan Gomez
Dolan Fire arson suspect Ivan Gomez. Monterey County Sheriff's Office

The Dolan Fire, which started in August 2020 in the Los Padres National Forest, ended up burning nearly 125,000 acres, destroyed 14 structures including 10 homes, and resulted in injuries to several firefighters as well as destroying multiple condor nesting structures before being fully extinguished in December, prosecutors said.

State park crews initially spotted the fire and at the same time learned that someone was throwing rocks at vehicles on state Highway 1 at the Lime Creek Bridge. When officers contacted the person, later identified as Gomez, he said he started the fire at an illegal marijuana grow site, prosecutors said.

According to the District Attorney's Office, lighters found on him were in working order and matched others found at the eventual origin point of the wildfire, and Gomez admitted numerous times to starting the fire in a subsequent lengthy interview with the county Sheriff's Office.

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