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Old 10-31-2007, 09:04 AM
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Boy with matches started fire

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. - Officials blamed a wildfire that consumed more than 38,000 acres and destroyed 21 homes last week on a boy playing with matches, and said they would ask a prosecutor to consider the case.

The boy, whose name and age were not released, admitted to sparking the fire on Oct. 21, Los Angeles County sheriff's Sgt. Diane Hecht said Tuesday. Ferocious winds helped it quickly spread.

"He admitted to playing with matches and accidentally starting the fire," Hecht said in a statement.

The boy was released to his parents, and the case will be presented to the district attorney's office, Hecht said. It was not clear if he had been arrested or cited by detectives.

The fire began in an area near Agua Dulce and quickly spread. It was among 15 or so major wildfires that destroyed some 2,100 homes and blackened 809 square miles from Los Angeles to the Mexican border last week. Seven deaths were blamed directly on the fires, six evacuees died of natural causes and one person died of a fall.

Authorities arrested five people for arson during that period, but none have been linked to any of the major blazes.

All but four of the blazes are now fully contained. Firefighters on Wednesday continued to cut lines around the remaining fires and kept a close eye on the weather.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Deputy Maribel Rizo said prosecutors were yet to determine if the boy's parents would be held accountable for any financial losses caused by the fire. Rizo did not know when prosecutors would be given the case.

Forecasters have said moderate Santa Ana winds could pick up later in the week.

Investigators have blamed an arsonist for setting a destructive wildfire in Orange County that blackened 28,500 acres and destroyed 16 homes.

Authorities were seeking the driver of a white Ford F-150 pickup truck spotted in a canyon area around the time the fire broke out. They said they wanted to talk to the driver, but stopped short of calling the person a suspect.

Officials offered a $285,000 reward to anyone with information that will lead to an arrest and conviction.
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