2009 Wildfires

Feb 24, 2010 1:31 AM

Two blamed for starting the Jesusita wildfire plead not guilty

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) - Two men blamed for sparking a wildfire that destroyed 80 homes in Santa Barbara have pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges.

Lawyers for Craig Ilenstine and Dana Larsen entered their pleas Monday. The men, who weren't in court, are charged with failing to obtain a permit to use brush-cutting equipment in a high-danger fire area, and with failing to carry a shovel or fire extinguisher to deal with an accidental blaze.

Authorities say they used gas-powered weeders to clear brush near a trail where the 8,700-acre blaze erupted last May.

The charges carry a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail and a $25,000 fine, but authorities have said they also plan to seek restitution for the millions in damage and firefighting costs.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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