Three teenagers arrested for allegedly starting Thousand Oaks brush fire

Two firefighters are seen next to smoke
Ventura County firefighters put out hot spots on a brush fire, estimated at 28 acres, burning near Westlake Village last month.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Three teenagers have been arrested on suspicion of starting a brush fire in Thousand Oaks last week that forced residents to evacuate.

Two 14-year-olds and a 15-year-old, whose names have not been released because they are minors, were arrested Tuesday and cited for taking an action that, through carelessness or negligence, may cause a fire.

They were released to their parents. Ventura County Sheriff’s Detective Gregg de la Rosa said the case has not been submitted to the district attorney’s office.


Officials responded to the Country fire in the 500 block of Country Valley Road near Westlake Village about 3:20 p.m. April 29. The fire burned east of Westlake High School.

Evacuation orders for residents on several roads were lifted in the evening as containment grew and the fire was held to 28 acres. One firefighter suffered minor injuries.

De la Rosa said the teenagers were stopped by residents who saw them exiting the brush about 100 yards from where the fire started. Arson investigators interviewed witnesses and the teenagers.

“There’s no allegation that they started it on purpose,” said de la Rosa, who would not provide more details about how the fire started.

In Shasta County on Wednesday, prosecutors announced they had charged a woman with 20 felony counts of arson for starting the 2018 Delta wildfire, which burned through more than 63,000 acres and destroyed dozens of properties.

Officials said that their investigation had taken several years and that tips from the public were invaluable.

“You need witnesses, you need surveillance,” de la Rosa said. “You need to establish intent, that is the biggest thing.”