Trail restorers face misdemeanor charges over wildfire

SANTA BARBARA — Two men engaged in trail restoration work over the summer face misdemeanor charges for the Jesusita fire that burned 9,000 acres of verdant Santa Barbara hillside and residential neighborhoods this past May.

During the conflagration, 80 homes were completely destroyed and several firefighters suffered injury, with losses estimated in excess of $17 million.

Now two men have been charged with violations of California Fire Code 2601 requiring fire permits for any “hot work” in hillside brush areas. Craig Ilenstine, 50, and Dana Larsen, 45, are alleged to have been engaged in trail restoration work on May 5 with power tools, which sparked the fire in the early afternoon of a windswept day.

Requirements for “hot work” permits include demonstration of proper fire prevention precautions and the presence of firefighting equipment at the site of the work.

In addition to the misdemeanor charges each man now faces, county fire spokesman Capt. David Sadecki and Senior Deputy District Attorney Jerry Lulejian indicate that both defendants will be facing fines of $25,000 and 90-day jail terms, as well as potential civil claims for financial restitution to the fire victims.

Trail restorers face misdemeanor charges over wildfire was last modified: July 17th, 2012 by admin
Categories: Santa Barbara

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Robert L. McCullough

Bob McCullough is a television and screen writer-producer who has worked for every major television network and film studio with more than 200 produced credits. Bob has recently co-authored “Where Hollywood Hides: Santa Barbara”, a hardcover book featuring a wide range of film, television, and music industry celebrities living on the Central Coast. His weekly iTunes podcast about “all things Hollywood” can be heard at