A jury was sworn in today to hear the case against two of three men who allegedly started the 1,900-acre Colby Fire, which consumed nearly 2,000 acres and destroyed five homes in January.
The federal court panel is set to hear opening statements Wednesday morning in the trial of Clifford Henry Jr. and Steven Aguirre, who each face charges of unlawfully causing and failing to control an illegal campfire on federal land.
A third defendant, Jonathan Jarrell, is set to be tried separately later this month.
The three men were arrested shortly after the fire broke out Jan. 16 amid a red flag warning due to strong winds, high temperatures and bone-dry conditions. A federal affidavit suggests all three admitted roles in the fire.
Officials said Henry, 22, is a Glendora resident, while Aguirre, 21, is a transient.
The blaze in the Angeles National Forest consumed 1,952 acres, destroyed five homes and damaged 17 others while injuring six people, including five firefighters, according to the U.S. Forest Service. It also destroyed 10 outbuildings and damaged another.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Bettinelli has alleged that the defendants "knew the conditions were dangerous in terms of the wisdom of setting fires."
In addition to the destruction of homes and structures, "you have a blackened national forest," she said.
—City News Service