The two ranch hands accused of starting the Zaca Fire showed up in a Santa Maria courtroom on today, Sept. 20, but their arraignment was delayed until October 15 to give all of the defendants time to retain counsel. Rancho La Laguna LLC, the limited liability company that owns the property where the fire started, is named as a defendant along with workers Jose Cabrera and Santiago Cervantes.
Following the brief proceeding, Deputy District Attorney Jerry Lulejian announced that his office had added a fifth felony count: the charge of recklessly causing a fire with great bodily injury to Josh Lee was added to three counts of injury to three other fire or support crew members, plus one count of causing a forest fire. The Zaca Fire was caused by sparks generated while the two workers were using a metal grinder to repair a water pipe to a cattle trough, on the morning of July 4.
Attorney Robert Sanger, who has been retained to represent Cabrera, for the purposes of this proceeding also represented the property’s owner, Rancho La Laguna LLC, whose members of record are movie producer Charles Roven and his wife, Stephanie Haymes-Roven. According to reports from the courthouse, several Santa Ynez Valley ranchers and farmers were in the courtroom to provide moral support for the ranch workers.