Tony Reed
Del Norte Triplicate

Leigha LaBrasca is scheduled to make her first appearance in court at 1:10 p.m. to answer charges of arson, following an April 8 fire that damaged an apartment in Crescent City.

The purpose of the appearance is to receive a report on the case. LaBrasca remains in county jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Firefighters said they arrived at 505 Gary St. to see flames coming from an upstairs window of a four-unit apartment building.

At Monday’s Crescent City Council meeting, City Manager Eric Wier said the fire could have been major but wasn’t, due to coordinated efforts of the fire and police departments.

“Police officers were first on scene and they were able to notify the other occupants of the four-plex,” he said. “We had three other apartments that were occupied with families. We got those people out safely.”

Police Chief Ivan Minsal said Officers Ethan Miller and Alex Pierson cleared the other apartments of their occupants and were able to arrest Labrasca.

Wier said firefighters from multiple departments were able to snuff the fire so quickly and efficiently that residents were able to go back into their apartments that very night.

California’s arson laws

There are many distinctions between arson laws in California, differing as to intent, type of structure, and whether someone was injured as a result.

Penal code 451, for which Labrasca is charged, is defined as malicious arson, alleging she did so willfully and maliciously. Malicious is defined as doing so to injure or harm.

According to state law, “Arson that causes an inhabited structure or inhabited property to burn is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for three, five, or eight years.”