Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office press release:
On Saturday morning, the DNSO received a report of a fire about 1.5 miles from US HWY 199 on Siskiyou Fork Road. A deputy and fire personnel responded and confirmed that there was an active fire. Gasquet Fire and Crescent Fire responded quickly and extinguished the fire.
Upon searching the area, the responders located five more fires, two of which were active. It was noted by emergency responders that the roadway leading into the fires was purposely blocked in such a way as to prevent access. A stolen vehicle was also discovered. The vehicle was reported stolen out of the Ashland, Oregon area. A canvas of the area around the stolen vehicle resulted in another active fire being discovered up the Siskiyou Fork Drainage. As the DNSO initiated an arson investigation, Gasquet Fire requested a helicopter and Cal Fire responded. All active fires were put out.
The stolen vehicle was unable to be removed and after evidence was collected, it was secured and left at the scene until morning. When responders came back the next morning to remove the vehicle and further investigate a new fire was discovered in close proximity and was extinguished. With assistance from a local resident, the DNSO was also successful in removing the stolen vehicle from the area.
On Sunday evening another fire was reported by residents on Little Jones Creek Road near Jawbone. Gasquet Fire, Crescent Fire and the US Forest Service responded and worked to suppress the growing fire. They were successful in their efforts. Responding members of the DNSO also discovered two additional fires, one of which was believed to have been started above ground level, in the upper portion of a tree.
As the arson investigation continued, DNSO was able to communicate with Ashland PD regarding the vehicle theft. Ashland PD believed they had a photo of an unknown suspect in the theft and forwarded that image to the DNSO. A BOLO was issued to local law enforcement agencies for an individual matching that description.
On Monday morning an individual matching his description was spotted near the area of Patrick’s Creek Lodge. DNSO responded quickly and was able to locate the individual, but he fled into the densely wooded area nearby. Later that day another caller reported a hitchhiker matching his description within proximity to the previous report. Assisted by the local CHP and State and National Parks, the DNSO set up a perimeter and searched the region for several hours. The individual was not located but law enforcement believed he was still in the area.
On Tuesday morning the DNSO received a report of an individual matching his description in the area of Panther Flat Campground. DNSO responded again and deployed the investigations team to establish a perimeter. The suspect was spotted fleeing into the tree line near the Smith River just below the Panther Flat campground. DNSO continued to track him for several hours and another caller reported he may be at the Gasquet Market. A local resident at the market knew him to be Michael Lindauer. In addition to now being a potential suspect in the vehicle theft out of Oregon, Lindauer was also wanted for outstanding, unrelated out-of-area warrants for vehicle theft. He is also on probation in two different California jurisdictions.
As DNSO personnel headed that way they encountered the suspect near the Gasquet Forks and pursued him. DNSO put out an alert to local residents that have subscribed to the Del Norte Community Alert System asking for help if an individual is seen matching the suspect’s description. Through the alert system, people were also advised that deputies, some of whom are in plain clothes, are searching the area. Dispatch began receiving more tips from Gasquet residents that helped guide the search. The suspect was located about 1.5 miles up North Fork towards Stoney Creek and was taken into custody.
He was booked on offenses related to false information to a law enforcement officer, vehicle theft and outstanding warrants. The DNSO investigations team also believes he is a suspect in the aforementioned arsons. It should be mentioned that he was a person of interest in another arson in recent local history. As evidence is being processed and the case continues to be worked, the DNSO remains steadfast on development of an investigation that our partners at the District Attorney’s Office can take to trial, if need be.
Sheriff Apperson said “The apprehension of this individual is a result of good old fashion cop work. The Deputies were relentless in their oath to providing public safety and I commend their efforts. They had no off switch while working extra-long shifts and traversing over some of the most treacherous terrain our wilderness has to offer. Sergeant McManus, Sergeant Schneck and Deputy Asbury acted tirelessly, and exemplary. I want to thank Gasquet Fire and all other fire responders for their rapid response as these fires could have gotten out of control if not for their level of professionalism. I also want to thank other law enforcement agencies including the CHP and State and National Parks for helping out without hesitation. Finally and probably most importantly, I want to offer my admiration to our community for people picking up the phone and helping us track this individual over the past several days.”
As of the date and time of this release, Michael Lindauer is in custody at the Del Norte County jail.