Reporting from Los Angeles and Montecito — A smoldering bonfire built by students on a ridge-top overlooking Montecito apparently sparked last week's disastrous Tea fire, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said Tuesday.Oh fudge...
Ten men and women, ranging in age from 18 to 22, had gathered at an abandoned property called the Teahouse late Wednesday night and built a bonfire to warm themselves, Brown said.
They told fire investigators that they thought the bonfire was out when they left early Thursday morning. But embers continued to smolder for more than 12 hours and were reignited by Santa Ana-type winds that evening, authorities said.
In what became one of Santa Barbara County's most destructive wildfires, fast-moving flames destroyed 210 homes and damaged nine others. At least 25 people were injured, three of them with burns.
Brown told a news conference that investigators believe that the group did not intend to start a wildfire.
"It appears this was the result of carelessness," he said. - Los Angeles Times