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ALTADENA : Man Pleads No Contest to Starting Disastrous Fire

A transient who made a campfire to keep warm against Santa Ana winds pleaded no contest Monday to starting a blaze that burned 118 Altadena homes.

Andres Huang, a 35-year-old immigrant from Peru, is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 21 on a misdemeanor charge of starting an illegal open fire. He faces a maximum six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Huang told investigators he tried to put out the campfire but the wind blew it out of control. The resulting wildfire scorched 5,700 acres, destroyed 118 homes and damaged 17 others.

Investigators considered seeking more serious charges after the death of a 98-year-old man from pneumonia that detectives said was related to inhaling smoke from the Altadena fire. But the district attorney’s office said last week there was not enough evidence to charge Huang with manslaughter.

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Municipal Judge Judson Morris on Monday granted a request by Huang’s lawyer that he be held at a state hospital pending sentencing. “I imagine he’s still having psychological or mental difficulties,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael McCrossen said.


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