Cal Fire investigators testify in Lakeport against arson suspect Damin Pashilk, suspected of starting Clayton fire

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A Clearlake man suspected of starting more than a dozen wildland fires, including the Clayton fire, was under surveillance when some of the fires broke out in 2015 and 2016, Cal Fire investigators testified Thursday and Friday, according to a Lake Country prosecutor.

The testimony came during a preliminary hearing in Lake County Superior Court to determine whether the suspect, Damin Pashilk, should stand trial on arson charges. Lake County Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff said he believes the state will be able to make a strong enough case to proceed with the prosecution.

“I’m pretty confident that if we don’t get a holding order on all of the charges, I think we’ll get a holding order on at least some of them,” he said.

Pashilk is charged with more than 20 felonies for allegedly starting fires in Lake County in 2015 and 2016. One of the fires, the Clayton fire, burned nearly 4,000 acres and destroyed 188 homes in August 2016.

Cal Fire investigators presented evidence at the hearing supporting their conclusion the fires were started by an arsonist. They also told Superior Court Judge Andrew Blum they had Pashilk under surveillance during the time he was suspected of starting some of the fires, Hinchcliff said.

You can reach Staff Writer Andrew Beale at 707-521-5205 or On Twitter @iambeale.

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