A Whittier man has been charged with starting a fire last week that destroyed two homes and damaged four others in a canyon neighborhood, authorities said.
Kevin Whitlock, 54, was charged with six counts of arson of an inhabited structure or property and one count each of arson of property of another and arson of a structure or forest, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
The Sycamore fire began shortly before 3 p.m. Thursday and burned about seven acres near the 4800 block of Cinco View Drive, officials said.
Sheriff’s deputies arrested Whitlock after he was found in the canyon with burns, officials with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said Friday. Whitlock was hospitalized with injuries that were not life-threatening, authorities said.
Whitlock, who is still recovering from his wounds, was unable to attend an arraignment scheduled for Tuesday; it has been moved to next week.
Prosecutors allege that Whitlock set a fire among brush between a small trail and several houses at the edge of Sycamore Canyon. Whipped by Santa Ana winds and high temperatures amid a winter dry spell, the flames shot up the grassy hill and toward the Whittier suburb.
It took more than 200 firefighters to extinguish the blaze, but not before it burned several acres of brush, gutted two houses, damaged four and marred parts of another home’s backyard, prosecutors said. Fire crews hauled out furniture, artwork and dishes from one of the smoldering houses, parking them on a neighbor’s driveway.
“This fire could have had fatal consequences, and even though it didn’t, there was tremendous loss for several families due to the unnecessary actions of one individual,” Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón said.
Source: Jonah Valdez, Los Angeles Times (Article); NBC Los Angeles (Photo)