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LOCAL : Boy, 15, Charged in Chino Hills Fire; Parents to Be Held Liable

<i> From Times Staff and Wire Service Reports</i>

Prosecutors have filed a criminal misdemeanor charge against a 15-year-old boy whose toy rocket sparked the Chino Hills brush fire, and fire officials said today that they will seek to have the boy’s parents cover the costs of fighting the massive blaze.

The July 12 wildfire scorched more than 7,000 acres, injured four inmate firefighters and, though no buildings were damaged, cost more than $500,000 to extinguish, authorities said.

The 15-year-old Yorba Linda boy has not been identified because of his age. On Wednesday, he was charged with one misdemeanor count of recklessly setting a fire, Orange County Deputy Dist. Atty. David Hickey said.

Hickey said today that he expects a preliminary hearing on the case in mid-September.

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The boy told fire officials that his model rocket crashed into a grassy area and exploded into flames. He suffered minor burns trying to stamp out the blaze, then ran to a telephone to call 911.

The Orange County Fire Department routinely attempts to recover the costs associated with any fire, traffic collision or hazardous material accident when someone is found to be negligent, Capt. Dan Young said today. If the 15-year-old is acquitted in the criminal case, the department will then file a civil suit against his parents, Young said.

“We have that responsibility to the taxpayer--to put the cost and the blame where it belongs,” Young said.


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