A Santa Barbara man charged with arson in connection with the Ward Incident Fire in November is scheduled to appear in Superior Court on Tuesday to set a date for his preliminary hearing.
Jose Martin Alvarez-Castro, 30, is charged with recklessly causing a fire of a structure or forest, a felony, on Nov. 2 for allegedly starting a fire that burned some brush near a bike path south of Ward Drive in Santa Barbara.
Mr. Alvarez-Castro also is charged with possessing methamphetamine and resisting arrest, both misdemeanors.
He pleaded not guilty to all charges at his Nov. 4 arraignment.
The complaint filed against him also alleges aggravating factors in that his prior convictions as an adult or sustained petitions in juvenile delinquency proceedings “are numerous or of increasing seriousness;” that he was on probation, mandatory supervision, post-release community supervision or parole when the crime (of arson) was committed; and that his performance on probation, mandatory supervision, post-release community supervision or parole was “unsatisfactory.”
Sheriff’s deputies and county firefighters responded at 11:40 p.m. on Nov. 2 to a report of a fire in the brush area near the bike path between the south end of Ward Drive and More Ranch Road.
“When deputies arrived, a witness provided information about a possible suspect
in the area,” sheriff’s officials said in a news release at the time.
While deputies warned residents in the surrounding area about the fire, additional deputies searched for the suspect who reportedly started the fire intentionally.
At about 11:57 p.m., deputies located and detained a person matching the suspect’s description provided by a witness on the bike path, sheriff’s officials said.
Mr. Alvarez-Castro was subsequently arrested on suspicion of arson, obstruction of a peace officer and possession of a controlled substance.
He was booked at the Main Jail and held on $20,000 bail.
As of Dec. 21, he remained in custody, and his bail had been increased to $115,000, according to sheriff’s office records.
Other sheriff’s deputies, meanwhile, remained on scene until county firefighters confirmed that the evacuation warning that was issued for the More Ranch Area had been lifted.