John Colin Eagle Skoda, age 32 of San Francisco is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 25. He faces six years in prison.
A little more than a year after the Klamathon Fire raged through the community of Hornbrook, the man accused of inadvertently starting the blaze while “burning debris recklessly” on a hot and windy day pleaded guilty to all counts against him.
John Colin Eagle Skoda, age 32 of San Francisco, faces six years in prison after pleading guilty Thursday morning to recklessly putting fire to an inhabited structure, recklessly putting fire to forest lands and recklessly putting fire to a property, with two enhancements for bodily injury and multiple structures burned.
Skoda is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 25. He was initially arrested Aug. 20, 2018 after a joint investigation between CAL FIRE and the Siskiyou County District Attorney’s Office, although he has been out of custody on his own recognizance since August of last year while the case moved through the court system.
Original charges against Skoda included one count of involuntary manslaughter as well as six charges related to recklessly burning. The plea deal negates the need for a jury trial.
During his arraignment last year, it was noted that Skoda “shows remorse” and turned himself in immediately when he learned of his arrest warrant. He was cooperative in the course of the fire’s investigation, said Assistant District Attorney Martha Aker.
The Klamathon Fire, which was started on July 5, 2018, burned more than 38,000 acres in and around the community of Hornbrook. The fire destroyed 35 homes and 48 other structures, and three firefighters were injured while fighting it.
Hornbrook resident John Karl Bermel, age 72, died after the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office said he was overcome by flames. His body was found near his home, which was “heavily damaged” by fire, the Sheriff’s Office said.