3 plead not guilty of starting Colby fire near Los Angeles

Feb. 11, 2014 at 7:09 PM

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Three men pleaded not guilty in federal court Tuesday to charges they set a fire near Los Angeles in January that destroyed five homes and 17 other structures.

The Colby fire in Glendora, Calif., burned nearly 2,000 acres and left at least three people, including two firefighters, injured.

Clifford Eugene Henry, 22, of Glendora, along with Steven Robert Aguirre, 21, and Jonathan Carl Jarrell, 24, who have no known address, have been charged with two felony counts of setting fire to timber, the Los Angeles Times reported. Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Bettinelli said the suspects are also charged with several misdemeanor offenses.

Henry, Aguirre and Jarrell were arrested as they fled the area where the fire originated. Court documents indicate they gave investigators conflicting accounts of what happened, with all three denying they started the fire.

Jarrell eventually conceded he threw a notebook into a campfire and a gust of wind carried burning paper into a bush, the Times reported.

The suspects said they ran down a hill after they failed to put the fire out by stomping on it.

Henry, Aguirre and Jarrell were ordered to come back to court Feb. 20 for a pretrial conference, and their trial was scheduled to begin March 11.

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