Young Teenager Charged With Arson in California Wildfire That Forced Evacuations and Cost Over $18 Million

Area residents observe the progress of the Cuesta Fire as it burns downhill Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, on the Santa Lucia Range east of Santa Margarita, Calif., as seen from Highway 58. (David Middlecamp/The Tribune (of San Luis Obispo) via AP)
Area residents observe the progress of the Cuesta Fire as it burns downhill Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, on the Santa Lucia Range east of Santa Margarita, Calif., as seen from Highway 58. (David Middlecamp/The Tribune (of San Luis Obispo) via AP)

A boy has been charged with arson after authorities say he started a blaze in central California that led to evacuations and cost more than $18 million to fight.

Madera County District Attorney David Linn tells The Fresno Bee that the boy ignited the nearly 9-square-mile blaze while playing with a lighter and burning pine needles on July 25.

The prosecutor says the boy, who’s under 14, also has been charged with unlawfully starting a fire. He’s being held in juvenile detention.

The fire was contained Saturday after spreading across drought-stricken foothills and evacuating two communities north of Fresno. The U.S. Forest Service estimates it cost $18.3 million to control.

A hearing is set Aug. 26 for the boy, whose attorney argued against the unusual step of detaining him.

SOURCE: The Associated Press

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