Sheriff seeks witnesses to several Felton-area fires after charging woman with arson
A 39-year-old woman is facing a felony arson charge in connection with a fire in Felton early this year, and the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office is investigating whether she’s connected to four other fires that were deliberately set in the Felton area since mid-January.
Tanya A. Posey was arrested Sunday evening and charged with intentionally setting a 50-square-foot fire on Jan. 19 near the 300 block of Felton Empire Road. Posey was being held in the Santa Cruz County jail system on Wednesday on $50,000 bail, records show.
Investigators did not disclose the evidence they have connecting Posey to that fire. But crews with Cal Fire, the Felton Fire Department, California State Parks and sheriff’s deputies have responded to four other suspicious fires around the Felton area since Jan. 19, and the sheriff’s office says it is investigating whether Posey is involved in those fires, too.
- Jan. 20: Multiple burn spots were found near the 5400 block of Graham Hill Road which are suspected to be the work of an arsonist.
- Jan. 23: Smoldering tree stumps were found near the 5400 block of Graham Hill Road. A woman matching the description of the suspect in the Jan. 20 fires was seen leaving the area, authorities say.
- Feb. 8: A fire that appeared to be intentionally set was reported on a walking trail near the Felton Fair parking lot.
- Feb. 28: Two fires — one 8 feet by 3 feet and another 50 feet by 20 feet — were reported along a trail near the 5800 block of Highway 9 in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.
Posey was arrested Sunday near the scene of the Henry Cowell fire, the sheriff’s office said, but she has not been charged in connection with that blaze.
While none of the fires caused injuries or damage to nearby buildings, sheriff’s office Public Information Officer Ashley Keehn said had the fires not been contained in time, “there could have been significant damage.”
Santa Cruz County was hit with unusually dry and windy conditions in January that sparked other blazes that caused the evacuations of 100-plus people.
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Also, “considering the devastating [CZU] fire our county went through last year, these fires are concerning, and we are working to make sure they do not continue,” Keehn wrote in an email to Lookout.
Sheriff’s deputies are seeking witnesses who might have seen Posey near the fires or had heard her talking about setting them. Anyone with information is asked to contact detectives at (831) 454-7640 or (831) 454-7096.