County prosecutors have decided not to press charges in the Sherpa Fire, seen here on June 17, 2016, two days after the conflagration started.
Martin Kurnik

Santa Barbara County “is not filing [criminal] charges in the Sherpa [Fire] case,” said District Attorney Joyce Dudley, referring to last summer’s 7,500-acre wildfire. The wind-driven conflagration started accidentally on the warm and windy afternoon of June 15, when, according to County Fire, a Rancho La Scherpa resident removed a smoking log from a fireplace and placed it outside to extinguish but failed to contain runaway embers. The multiagency suppression effort cost more than $16 million, and agricultural losses were estimated at $3 million.

“It has not yet been determined” whether the U.S. Forest Service, the fire’s lead agency, will attempt to recover expenditures, according National Press Officer Babete Anderson, adding, “One of our Law Enforcement and Investigations Special Agents is completing a Report of Investigations … [for] our Albuquerque Service Center, [which] will then review and make a determination to move forward or not.” The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) also responded to Sherpa in force; the agency’s public affairs representative did not respond to requests for comment.


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