Fallen CA Firefighters Saluted Amid Investigation

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WASHINGTON -- California firefighters joined to remember their own, Friday, saluting the body of Capt. Tedmund Hall as officials searched for the person behind his and one other firefighter's death.

Hall's body was driven through Los Angeles to a mortuary in Victorville.  He was killed Sunday, along with Specialist Arnaldo Quinones, as they tried to control raging wildfires that have left hundreds of miles of land scortched outside Los Angeles.

Both bodies will be held until a mass memorial Sept. 12 in Dodger Stadium.

Investigators believe the massive fire was set on purpose.  Since there were deaths involved in the blaze, the person or people responsible will likely face murder charges.

Following a Trail of Arson

For the families of two firefighters killed this week and residents who have lost everything, it is a reality that's unfathomable.

"We believe this is arson. And because of that fact the L.A. County Sheriff's Homicide Department is looking at the tragic death of those two firefighters as a criminal homicide," said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore.
    
The two men died when their truck plunged 800 feet down a mountain road. They were searching for an escape route for their crew, made up of prison inmates, after flames overran their camp.

Starting from the location where officials believe the fire was set, investigators are working backwards searching for answers.  Even tracing along the fire's charred path, detectives can find clues that lead to convictions.
    
The fire has burned nearly 150,000 acres of the Angeles National Forest.

"Approximately 53 miles of fire line have been built," said U.S. Forest Service Commander Mike Dietrich. "There are over 4,400 firefighters currently assigned." Sixty-five miles of fire line have yet to be built.
    
On Thursday, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger visited with residents of the destroyed neighborhoods.

"It's horrible to lose your home, your belongings, to lose everything you had and collected, so we are here to help people get back on their feet as soon as possible," Schwarzenegger said.

Meanwhile, grateful residents, relieved their homes were spared, were sending messages of thanks.    
    
"We can't thank them enough," said one resident. "It's amazing."

The fire has retreated high onto a hill in the forest. And that's where firefighters want to keep it - away from the community.
    
The blaze is now 38 percent contained. It will likely be a week and a half before it's completely under control.

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Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.