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Local News

Case Against Teen Accused in Gap Fire Closed

Boy was found to have been lighting small fires near Lizard's Mouth off West Camino Cielo

The criminal investigation against a Central Coast teenager accused of starting last summer’s Gap Fire is now closed, according to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.

The boy, who was 16 at the time the fire started July 1, was setting fires in brush near rock formations at Lizard’s Mouth off West Camino Cielo west of Highway 154, according to the U.S. Forest Service, the agency leading the investigation into the cause of the 9,000-acre blaze.

The boy’s crime was defined as arson, fire officials said.

The Gap Fire was contained July 28 after it raged across the mountainside above Goleta, forcing widespread neighborhood evacuations as it burned west. There were no serious injuries in the blaze, but four outbuildings were destroyed, as was cropland in northwestern Goleta. Suppression costs reached nearly $21 million.

While there is no evidence that the teen intended to start a wildfire, investigators said, he did ignite several small fires.

Officials, meanwhile, said they are continuing to investigate how the 8,800-acre Jesusita Fire ignited in May.

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

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