Thursday, April 19 , 2018, 11:02 pm | Fair and Breezy 58º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Men Charged in Jesusita Fire Plead Not Guilty

Craig Ilenstine and Dana Larsen are accused of unlawfully using power tools near the origin of the blaze

The two men charged with misdemeanors related to the Jesusita Fire pleaded not guilty at an arraignment hearing Monday.

Craig Ilenstine and Dana Larsen will not appear in court outside of a trial unless ordered by a judge, but their attorneys were in court Monday along with Santa Barbara County Senior Deputy District Attorney Jerry Lulejian.

Ilenstine and Larsen are charged with misdemeanor counts of using power tools without a hot work permit from the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, a violation of Santa Barbara County Code, and for not having proper firefighting equipment, a violation of public resources code, Lulejian said.

The second count, which was added just before the originally scheduled arraignment, states that no one shall use any gasoline-fueled internal combustion engine portable tool operated “on or near” forested, grass- or brush-covered land near flammable material without having tools within 25 feet for firefighting purposes. More specifically, “one serviceable round point shovel, with an overall length of not less than 46 inches, or one serviceable fire extinguisher.”

Defense attorney Larry Powell, who represents Dana Larsen, has said the two men will be tried together, and that they would “most likely” request a jury trial.

The defense plans to make preliminary motions concerning the applicability of the stature and whether restitution is appropriate, said defense attorney Sam Eaton, who represents Ilenstine.

All parties agreed the legal questions should be discussed before going to trial, Eaton said. “It’ll save everybody a lot of time,” he said.

A settlement conference is scheduled for March, when the attorneys will address Judge Jean Dandona in Department 11.

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

Convictions could be punishable by jail time of up to 90 days and/or a fine of up to $25,000. In addition, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office has said it intends to seek restitution for Jesusita Fire victims if the men are convicted and the prosecution can prove the alleged crimes caused the fire, during the sentencing stage. Cal Fire also plans to pursue civil cost recovery against the men.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(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 >

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 through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.


Maestro, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, Debit

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.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >