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California Briefing / Riverside

Alleged arsonist trained as fireman

February 11, 2009|David Kelly

The man charged with setting a 2006 wildfire that killed five firefighters once trained as a volunteer firefighter in Banning, according to trial testimony Tuesday.

Andrew Bennett, battalion chief with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said Raymond Lee Oyler spent three months training to be a firefighter but did not finish.

Oyler, 38, faces the death penalty if convicted of setting the Esperanza fire near Cabazon. The blaze killed the firefighters as they tried to save a house in an isolated canyon. Oyler also is accused of starting up to 25 other fires.

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