SANTA ANA — Orange County prosecutors are continuing their investigation into the cause of last week's Baker Canyon fire, and have not ruled out pressing charges against the owner of the ranch, officials said Thursday.
Fire investigators were meeting with a prosecutor from the Orange County Dist. Atty.'s office Thursday to ask that misdemeanor charges be filed in connection with illegal burning believed to have started the Oct. 13 fire, said Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Scott Brown.
Charges could be filed against those who started the fire and could also be filed against Dan Dulac, the owner of the Baker Canyon property where the fire began, and eventually burned more than 5,500 acres before being extinguished several days later, Brown said.
Brown declined to release the names of any who might have been involved in the illegal burning.
Dulac could not be reached for comment Thursday. But shortly after the blaze he said he did not know how the fire started because he was not home at the time and was unaware of anyone using his property.
If charges are filed, the fire authority can begin pursuing recovery of the $3.8-million cost of the fire, Brown said. State law allows fire officials the opportunity to recoup the cost of a fire started as a result of a "careless or negligent act," Brown said.
"This was an expensive fire, a very expensive one," he said. "If it's deemed to be the cause of a careless act, like we suspect it was, well, certainly our intent would be to recover some of the money we had to shell out for it."