Man pleads not guilty to starting brush fire

GLENDALE — A 25-year-old man pleaded not guilty in Pasadena Superior Court Monday to starting a small fire several days before and six miles north of where the Station fire began, officials said.

Babatunsin Olukunle, who is a Nigerian national, was charged with one count of unlawfully causing a fire on forest land, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s detectives had been looking for Olukunle to ask him questions about the Lady Bug fire, which occurred Aug. 20 and was named after the Lady Bug turnout on Angeles Crest Highway.

U.S. forest firefighters extinguished the blaze before it could grow to more than an acre.

The firefighters had asked Olukunle to remain at the scene, but he did not, sheriff’s officials said.

Though authorities said there was no evidence linking Olukunle to the deadly Station fire, they still wanted to talk to him about it.

His last known address was the Angeles National Forest within La Cañada Flintridge. Lancaster sheriff’s deputies found Olukunle and arrested him Thursday, sheriff’s officials said.

He does not have a violent criminal record, officials said. He reportedly attended UC Davis until 2007 but did not graduate.

Detectives assigned to the Lady Bug fire are also on the Station fire investigation, which killed Los Angeles fire Capt. Tedmund Hall and firefighter Arnaldo Quinones.

Olukunle is scheduled to appear Nov. 19 in Pasadena Superior Court to set a preliminary hearing, court officials said. He is being held in lieu of a $100,000 bond.

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