Arson charges filed in Whittier fire that destroyed homes

A fire destroyed two homes and damaged others in Whittier.
The wind driven Sycamore fire destroyed two homes and damaged others off Banyon Rim Drive on Feb. 10 in Whittier.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

A Whittier man has been charged with starting a fire that destroyed two homes and damaged four others in a canyon neighborhood last week, authorities said.

Kevin Whitlock, 54, was charged with six counts of arson of an inhabited structure or property and one count each of arson of property of another and arson of a structure or forest, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said.

The Sycamore fire began shortly before 3 p.m. Thursday and burned about seven acres near the 4800 block of Cinco View Drive, officials said.


Sheriff’s deputies arrested Whitlock after he was found in the canyon with burns, officials with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said Friday. He was hospitalized with injuries that were not life-threatening, authorities said.

Whitlock, who is still recovering from his wounds, was unable on Tuesday to attend his arraignment, and it was rescheduled for next week.

Two fires, one near Laguna Beach and the other near Whittier, brought harbingers of a difficult fire year for the parched region.

Feb. 10, 2022

Prosecutors allege that Whitlock set a fire among brush between a small trail and several houses sitting at the edge of Sycamore Canyon. Whipped by Santa Ana winds and high temperatures amid an increasingly common winter dry spell, flames shot up the grassy hill and toward the Whittier suburb.

It took more than 200 firefighters to extinguish the blaze, but not before flames charred through several acres of brush, gutted two houses, damaged four others and marred parts of another home’s backyard, prosecutors said.

Fire crews hauled out furniture, wall art and dishes from one of the smoldering houses, parking the salvaged valuables on a neighbor’s driveway.

“This fire could have had fatal consequences, and even though it didn’t, there was tremendous loss for several families due to the unnecessary actions of one individual,” Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón said.


Whitlock has not yet been assigned a defense attorney.