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Inmate firefighter who escaped during Canyon Fire 2 battle caught in Mission Hills

By in Press Enterprise on November 1, 2017

By Wes Woods

A 31-year-old man who was serving time at a minimum-security prison and walked away while fighting the Canyon Fire 2 in Orange County in mid-October was apprehended Tuesday night in the San Fernando Valley, authorities said.

Armando Castillo was tracked to a motel in Mission Hills before being taken into custody without incident at 11:40 p.m. Tuesday, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said.

Castillo was last seen fighting the fire at 4:45 p.m. on Oct. 15 as part of the inmate crews working near Peters Canyon Regional Park in Orange, CDCR officials said.

The crews returned to Prado Conservation Camp in San Bernardino County, but Castillo was missing, authorities explained.

CDCR’s Special Service Unit worked with the Los Angeles Fugitive Apprehension Team following investigative leads to track Castillo to the motel, authorities said.

RELATED STORY: Did firefighters mishandle Canyon Fire 2? An O.C. supervisor wants an investigation

With Castillo at the motel, which was not named, was Daisy Castro, who was arrested on suspicion of assisting the inmate throughout his escape, officials added.

Castillo’s case will be forwarded to the L.A. District Attorney’s Office for prosecution and he will no longer be eligible to be housed in a fire camp, according to authorities.

Castillo was committed to CDCR on Aug. 23, 2016 from L.A. County to serve a five-year sentence for possession of a firearm and evading a peace officer while driving recklessly.

CDCR, CalFire, the California Highway Patrol and local law enforcement agencies all joined the effort to find him.

Castillo was set to be released to probation in May 2018, authorities noted.

Editor’s note: Authorities initially gave an incorrect location for the motel where Castillo was located. The motel is in Mission Hills.

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