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'Suspicious' brushfire in Los Angeles grows to more than 1,300 acres

More than 1,000 people were under evacuation orders, and residents in 130 other homes were told to prepare to flee.
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About 1,000 people in Los Angeles remained under evacuation orders Sunday, and residents in 130 more homes were warned that they might have to flee after a brushfire that may have been ignited by an arsonist grew to more than 1,300 acres.

Fire investigators said the blaze, which began Friday night in the affluent Pacific Palisades and Topanga Canyon neighborhoods, had a "suspicious start," said Margaret Stewart, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Fire Department.

In a statement Sunday night, Stewart said arson investigators and Los Angeles police released a person who had been taken into custody in connection with the fire. Investigators were questioning a second person, she said.

Earlier, an image of a man was displayed on Citizen, an app that describes itself as a personal safety network, above an advertisement for a $30,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of what the ad called "the arson suspect."

Los Angeles County sheriff's Lt. Jim Braden told a Spectrum News reporter that deputies did not have evidence to charge the man, and he said what appeared on the app was potentially "disastrous" because it could lead to someone's getting hurt.

In a statement, Citizen said it was a "mistake" to have posted the photo, which came from a tipster, without "formal" coordination with authorities.

"Once we realized this error, we retracted the photo and reward offer," the company said. "Safety has always been, and remains, our top priority. Yesterday, we lost our way. We've learned from this, and we will be better. We unequivocally discourage anyone from putting themselves in danger or interfering with first responders' work, and condemn all forms of violence."

A spokeswoman for the sheriff's department referred questions about Braden's comments to the station where he works. Lt. Anna Carrillo, the watch commander on duty Sunday, declined to comment and referred questions to the Los Angeles Police Department, which has jurisdiction over the area where the fire started.

The police department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The fire, which was 0 percent contained Sunday, was ignited in fierce wind gusts and a severe drought that stretches across most of the state. California experienced its most destructive wildfire season on record last year, a result of climate change and a century of fire suppression.

Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA, said last week that the state's vegetation had already reached peak summer dryness and that much of the state was at "exceptionally high risk" for wildfires this year.