Suspects in hills fire leave state

Times Staff Writer

Two teenage boys were allowed to fly home to Illinois with orders to return to Los Angeles in 60 days to face possible criminal charges stemming from a brush fire they allegedly set Friday that blackened 160 acres in the Hollywood Hills.

The fire came within a ridge of the Hollywood sign and Mt. Lee radio transmitters and within 50 feet of the Oakwood Apartments parking lot before the flames were beaten down by ground fire crews and water-dropping helicopters. No one was injured and no structures were damaged.

The boys, ages 16 and 17, were interviewed by police and Los Angeles Fire Department investigators at the Hollywood Station after they turned themselves in. They were accompanied by the parents of the 16-year-old.

The boys, whose names were withheld because they are minors, allegedly told arson investigators they were playing with a lighter and setting twigs on fire when the blaze spread up the hillside, said sources familiar with the investigation.


They were arrested on suspicion of “reckless burn of forest land,” which carries a penalty of up to three years in juvenile detention, officials said.

“They were arrested but currently are released to their parents,” said D’Lisa Davies, a spokeswoman for the Fire Department, which is investigating the case.

The boys were described as classmates from Lindenwood, Ill., about 88 miles west of Chicago, and were staying at the Oakwood Apartments while the father of the 16-year-old underwent a long-term training assignment in Southern California for his job.

Arson investigators had not yet filed a case with the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, according to Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the office.


The boys were described by one official familiar with the case as “straight-A students” who brought their schoolwork with them to California, where they were being home-schooled by the 16-year-old’s mother.