Youngster confesses for California fire

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Los Angeles, Oct 31: A boy playing with matches has confessed to starting a wildfire that destroyed 63 structures near Los Angeles, officials said.

The unidentified youngster, believed to be a preteen, was questioned by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department investigators on October 22, a day after the Buckweed fire started rampaging across 38,000 acres (15,000 hectares) in the Santa Clarita area, 30 miles (50 km) north of downtown Los Angeles.

The boy ''admitted that he had been playing with matches,'' said sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore yesterday.

It was initially believed that downed power lines had started the fire.

The boy was sent home after confessing, and the District Attorney's office will consider whether to press charges.

The Buckweed fire was one of about two-dozen conflagrations that ravaged southern California last week, destroying 2,300 buildings, according to the California Office of Emergency Services. The fires have been responsible for 12 deaths and 78 injuries.

Arson is being blamed for a blaze that has destroyed 15 homes in Orange County, south of Los Angeles, and a reward of 250,000 dollars has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever started the fire.


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