A burning match with smoke.
A burning match. Photo from Pixabay.

A Riverside man accused of igniting a fire that burned nearly two acres on the west end of Lake Mathews was charged Wednesday with arson.

Gesa Nickens, 23, was arrested Monday after allegedly setting the blaze on private property in the area of Cajalco Road and La Sierra Avenue.

Nickens, who’s being held in lieu of $35,000 bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside, is slated to make his initial appearance Wednesday afternoon at the Riverside Hall of Justice.

According to the Riverside County Fire Department, the property was set ablaze about 9:30 a.m. Monday, and several engine crews responded, working to encircle the flames as they spread slowly into an adjacent nature preserve.

Firefighters fully contained the brusher about two hours later. No homes or other structures were damaged.

Investigators quickly determined the fire had been intentionally set, and Nickens was identified as a suspect even before it was extinguished, though the fire department declined to disclose what evidence or clues were uncovered.

The defendant was taken into custody without incident. He has no prior documented felony convictions in Riverside County.

–City News Service

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