10 Accused of Setting California Wildfires


A Hollywood man and a Pacoima demolition company are among 10 defendants who have been charged with federal offenses for allegedly starting wildfires that have burned in the Southland, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Lucas T. Bennett, 24, allegedly started a one-quarter-acre brush fire in December 2006 near the Angeles National Forest's Islip Saddle Trail by having an illegal campfire. Bennett has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of causing timber to burn, and is set to be tried Sept. 6, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

In the other case involving a Los Angeles County fire, the Best Demolition and Recycling Co. Inc. is charged for allegedly causing the 290-acre Middle Fire in Little Tujunga Canyon in 2003. The fire allegedly started because an employee of the Pacoima company used a tractor without a proper spark arrester.

Among the others charged:

Butcher is also accused of causing the 2002 Ellis Fire that burned about 70 acres in Piru Canyon.

He made his initial appearance Monday in federal court in Los Angeles, and was ordered held without bond pending further hearings, prosecutors said.