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Man, 81, Charged in 2,250-Acre Brush Fire

Los Angeles County prosecutors filed misdemeanor charges Friday against an 81-year-old man accused of causing a fire that burned 2,250 acres in the Green Valley and Lake Elizabeth areas last month.

Green Valley resident Donald Wedge was charged with dumping ashes within 10 feet of combustible materials, a violation of the Los Angeles County Fire Code, said Deputy Dist. Atty Stephen L. Cooley of the county prosecutor’s Lancaster office.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, but Cooley said his office would not seek jail time if Wedge is convicted because of his age and the absence of any criminal history. Cooley said the evidence did not support a more serious misdemeanor charge of causing a fire through negligence, which was the original recommendation of a U.S. Forest Service investigator.

Wedge told investigators that he dumped stove ashes near dry brush in an area close to his home in Green Valley. The blaze began in that area and spread rapidly northeast, burning down one home and causing about $500,000 in damage.

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