Friday, May 29, 2009

Tea Fire suspects - Eight college students - plead no contest to trespassing, building a campfire.

Students once blamed for Tea fire enter trespass pleas

Associated Press - May 29, 2009 12:34 PM ET

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) - Eight college students originally blamed for starting a wildfire that destroyed 210 homes in Santa Barbara last year have pleaded no contest to trespassing and building a campfire.

Seven were given 75 hours of community service, two years of unsupervised probation and ordered to pay $500 in fines after entering their pleas Thursday.

The attorney for an eighth defendant, who opted for 61 days in county jail to avoid probation, says he will be applying for electronic monitoring in lieu of jail time.

Sheriff's officials initially announced a campfire set by the defendants led to November's so-called Tea Fire.

The district attorney's office later failed to prove the fire started the blaze and filed the charges of trespassing and building a fire.

Information from: Santa Barbara News-Press, http://www.newspress.com

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****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.
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