LA Cops to Arrest 5 in Malibu Wildfire

Blaze last month destroyed 53 homes; police cite illegal campfire
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2007 9:27 PM CST
Los Angeles County Fire Chief P.Michael Freeman, left, Sheriff Lee Baca, middle, and Sherriff's Department lead Detective Irma Gonzales, right, announce the cause and successful conclusion in the investigation...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Arson investigators in LA plan to arrest five young men who they say accidentally set the Malibu wildfire that destroyed scores of ritzy homes over Thanksgiving weekend, the LA Times reports. The men, ages 18 to 27, were having an illegal campfire in a restricted area when they triggered the larger blaze. They could face up to 10 years in prison.

Police found empty alcohol containers and bundled logs near a cave—popular as a local party spot—then examined receipts from local stores and eventually found a witness who remembered the men. The brush fire, driven by Santa Ana winds, burned nearly 5,000 acres and destroyed 53 homes, the Times notes. At least three of  the men were in custody last night, the AP reports.