Pixel Tracker

Monday, December 10 , 2018, 7:31 am | Mostly Cloudy 48º


Arraignment Delayed for Two Men Charged in Jesusita Fire

Co-defendants Craig Ilenstine and Dana Larsen aren't likely to appear in court until the trial

The two men facing misdemeanor charges in connection with the May 2009 Jesusita Fire aren’t likely to appear in court until the trial, unless ordered to by the judge.

Friday’s scheduled arraignment in Santa Barbara County Superior Court for Craig Ilenstine and Dana Larsen was continued to February.

Each man faces two misdemeanor charges: using power tools without having a hot work permit from the Santa Barbara County Fire Department and not having proper firefighter equipment, a charge added within the past week, said attorney Larry Powell, who represents Larsen.

The men are being charged as co-defendants in the same case, one that they’ll “most likely” request is tried in front of a jury, Powell said.

Ilenstine and Larsen are accused of using metal-bladed power tools on May 5, 2009, the day the fire started on the Jesusita Trail in upper San Roque Canyon.

Many questions remain as to how the fire started, and both clients say they were off the mountain at least an hour before the fire was reported, Powell said.

Convictions may be punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 and/or jail time of up to 90 days, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

The District Attorney’s Office has said it will seek restitution for Jesusita Fire victims if the defendants are convicted and the prosecution can prove the alleged crimes caused the fire. Cal Fire also has said it plans to pursue civil cost recovery against the two men.

Powell said the plans to seek restitution shows “a very serious position” of the District Attorney’s Office in this case.

County Fire Chief Mike Dyer said the cost to fight the fire was about $19.5 million. The blaze, which forced the evacuation of more than 35,000 people, destroyed 80 homes and damaged 15. More than 1,850 firefighters battled the 8,733-acre fire.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.