Looters invading an evacuation zone established in the Santa Cruz Mountains area in Northern California were blamed for the crime, said officials with Cal Fire (California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection), KRON-TV of San Francisco reported.
“It’s unfortunate. It’s sickening that one of our fire ground commanders, while out taking care of business and directing firefighting crews, somebody entered his department vehicle and stole his wallet and drained his bank account,” a Cal Fire official told reporters during a news briefing, KRON reported.
Cal Fire posted a Twitter message regarding the incident and underscored the importance of the public staying clear of evacuation zones, according to the station.
Some 100 law enforcement officers have been deployed to the area amid numerous reports of looting, Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart told the Associated Press.
“I can’t imagine a bigger low-life,” Hart said of the wallet-theft suspect, who remained at large and unidentified. “The DA is going to hammer him.”
“I can’t imagine a bigger low-life. The DA is going to hammer him.”
The CZU fire was one of some 650 wildfires burning in California, many of them attributed to more than 12,000 lightning strikes in the state since Aug. 15, according to the AP.
The CZU blaze was one of three “complexes,” or groups of fires, in the San Francisco Bay Area, the AP report said.
Some 14,000 firefighters were deployed statewide to battle the blazes, according to the AP.