Felon who started 103-acre wildfire north of Banning sentenced

A convicted felon who lit a fire that burned 100 acres on the north end of Banning this summer, prompting evacuations, was bound for state prison today to serve a four-year sentence after pleading guilty to arson.

Andre Delgado Cox Jr., 45, admitted the felony count during a status hearing Wednesday at the Riverside Hall of Justice. The admission was part of a plea agreement with the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office. In exchange, prosecutors dropped a related misdemeanor count and sentence-enhancing allegation that had been filed against Cox.   

Superior Court Judge Joshlyn Pulliam certified the terms of the plea deal and imposed the sentence stipulated by the prosecution and defense. On Thursday morning, she signed the order committing Cox to state prison.   

According to Cal Fire, the defendant was directly involved in causing the “Sunset Fire,” which erupted about 6:30 p.m. on July 27 in the area of Gilman and Mesa streets, at the foot of the San Bernardino National Forest.   

The means and motive were not disclosed.   

The brush fire prompted evacuation orders and warnings around Repplier Road and San Gorgonio Avenue. Several roads were also closed. The evacuations were lifted after the brusher was fully contained the following day.

There were no injuries, and no structures were lost.   

According to court records, Cox has prior convictions in another jurisdiction that resulted in prison time, but the offenses weren’t listed.

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