Two photographers witnessed an arson, so they called 9-1-1 — and streamed it online*NOTES: Bernie Deyo is frequently retweeted by California Disasters on Twitter.
Also, click on link to article and watch 8-minute video of the incident as filmed by Bernie.
Photographer Bernie Deyo was having dinner with a friend when they saw smoke rising near Highway 138 in Neenach and drove out to investigate.
When they got there, they found a man setting brush fires off the road and screaming for help. That's when Deyo took out his phone and started streaming the scene live on Periscope.
Several thousand people watched Deyo's video from the scene — about 50 miles north of Santa Clarita — on the Periscope app, where they posted comments and questions for him as he tried to explain what was happening.
"I just couldn't believe what I was seeing," Deyo said. "That was beyond insane. It was one of those things where I couldn't put the camera down."
Deyo, a longtime Santa Clarita resident going to school in Idaho, said the man had noticeable burns on his body and was clearly in distress.
"He was yelling, 'spot fire,'" Deyo said, a term firefighters use when on the line battling blazes.
Deyo's friend and fellow photographer called 9-1-1 from the scene to report the suspected arson.
In the video, the man can be seen running around in the brush with flames nearby, sitting down and screaming and disappearing behind columns of fire and smoke.
"This guy's going to get himself killed," Deyo said during the video stream. "This guy's [expletive] insane."
Deyo and his friend nearly got overrun and had to drive away from the expanding flames as fire crews arrived on the scene.
The man was eventually arrested for arson, according to Detective Ed Nordskog with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Arson detail.
"He was witnessed setting numerous brush fires in the area," he said, adding that the 27-year-old suspect – whose name was not released by the sheriff's department – received second-degree burns to his left leg.
The fire grew to nearly 13 acres and at one point crossed over the road, according to Nordskog. Two Southern California Edison power poles were badly charred and will most likely need to be replaced, he added.
County firefighters arrived while the man was still setting fires and "did their best to kind of work around him," Deyo said.
The man was eventually detained by local citizens.
"They held him until the Santa Clarita patrol deputies showed up," Detective Nordskog said.
Deyo said witnesses at the scene "corralled" the man, but didn't physically detain him. Responding paramedics were able to get him to calm down before he was arrested.
No other injuries were reported and no structures were damaged in the blaze.
Detective Nordskog said the case is set to be filed with the L.A. District Attorney's Office on Thursday.
Deyo said has was amazed to have the ability to instantly stream the "chaotic" scene to viewers all over the world.
"To be able to broadcast to a mass audience ... it's an incredible power to have," he said.
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