Boy, 16, charged with arson in 2 Southern California wildfires

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Teen charged with starting 2 California wildfires

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — A 16-year-old Southern California boy was charged Wednesday as an adult for allegedly starting two arson wildfires in San Bernardino County earlier this year.

Ricky Sean Lukacs will be arraigned in adult court on Dec. 28 and is being held in juvenile hall, said Deputy District Attorney Karen Khim.

He is charged with two counts of arson of an inhabited structure for fires on Aug. 30 and 31 in the Yucaipa area, 65 miles east of Los Angeles.

Lukacs was originally arrested and charged as a juvenile, but the charges were refiled in adult court, said Susan Mickey, district attorney spokeswoman.

The fires did not cause serious injury or death, but one burned about 1½ square miles in the community of Oak Glen, and the other threatened about 400 homes in Yucaipa before it was contained.

At the time of his arrest in September, authorities said they were investigating the teen for 12 to 14 other arson wildfires going back to 2006 because of a “commonality” between the blazes.

Khim, the prosecutor, said she could not comment on the evidence and declined to say if more charges would be filed.

Arden Wiltshire, sheriff’s spokeswoman, said because structures burned in the two fires in question, authorities could file charges in adult court. She did not know if charges in the other blazes under investigation were filed or would be filed in juvenile court, where all proceedings are confidential.

Lukacs has not yet made a first court appearance and it was not known if he had retained an attorney.

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