Suspects are Los Coyotes tribal members--and one was a former ERTC employee
August 5, 2011 (Warner Springs)-- Eagle Rock Training Center (ERTC) has issued a statement to media following the arrest of two suspects charged with arson related to the Eagle Fire, which scorched over 14,500 acres and ran up over $15 million in firefighting costs. Below is Eagle Rock's statement in full:
At around 11:00 p.m. on July 21, 2011, Tribal Police for the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians notified ERTC (Eagle Rock Training Center – Eagle Rock Filming Center) that there was an active fire on the Los Coyotes Reservation that had started at or near ERTC's Identification Checkpoint building. ERTC’s first concern was for the safety of those that live on the Reservation and the direction of the fire. ERTC’s second concern was how the fire started because the building has no electricity, generator or other source that would have caused a spontaneous fire. ERTC did not have any personnel on duty at the time and no training, filming or preparation work took place on July 21. ERTC also did not have any training or productions scheduled that week or the following week, and the security guard had been off duty since 4:00 p.m.
ERTC was hopeful the fire would be extinguished quickly and with no damage or injury, and dispatched a fire liaison to the Incident Command Post to work with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) on the location of facility infrastructure and roads within ERTC’s leased area of the Reservation. On Friday, July 22, while cooperating with Cal Fire, San Diego County Sherriff’s officers, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and Tribal Police, ERTC was saddened and extremely disheartened to learn the fire had been deliberately set and was being investigated as arson.
We have now learned that two Los Coyotes tribal members have been arrested in connection with the fire. One of the men, Jeremy Ortiz had previously resigned his position at the ERTC Identification Checkpoint and was eligible for rehire.
The fire burned portions of ERTC’s leased land but did not harm any of the other buildings or infrastructure. The fire then continued through harsh terrain and out toward the desert. The ERTC liaison worked with Cal Fire and BIA to make sure any possible needs for fire breaks could be done on old jeep trails, while using ERTC’s own maps approved by Los Coyotes at the start of ERTC’s lease, to ensure they would not cut further or unnecessarily through undisturbed land.
ERTC is a private company also known as Eagle Rock Training Center and Eagle Rock Filming Center, which has a long term lease with Los Coyotes for the use of a portion of Reservation land for facilities, training and filming areas for its clients, which include the U.S. military, law enforcement and movie/TV production companies. The Reservation’s steep terrain is ideally suited for the important military and law enforcement training conducted by ERTC and for movie/TV production.