Youth started California wildfire that destroyed homes, forced evacuation

The Las Pulgas Fire lights the night on May 16, 2014 at Camp Pendleton, California. Investigators have determined that it was a youth who intentionally started a destructive fire that teared through southern California in May, destroying dozens of ho
The Las Pulgas Fire lights the night on May 16, 2014 at Camp Pendleton, California. Investigators have determined that it was a youth who intentionally started a destructive fire that teared through southern California in May, destroying dozens of homes and forcing more than 13,000 people to evacuate. -- PHOTO: AFP 

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Investigators have determined that it was a youth who intentionally started a destructive fire that teared through southern California in May, destroying dozens of homes and forcing more than 13,000 people to evacuate.

The initial fire triggered nearly a dozen blazes that burned for several days near San Marcos.

"Investigators determined the initial fire was intentionally set. The fire quickly spread due to the severe weather conditions," including high temperatures and strong winds, a police statement said on Wednesday. "A juvenile suspect believed to be the person responsible for starting the fire has been identified."

Police said the investigators found the youth was at fault after scouring photos and tips provided by the public.

No further information was provided about the suspect, in accordance with police policy concerning minors. But police said investigators had not linked the suspect to any other fires thus far.

California and other western US states are routinely hit with wildfires during the summer and fall, but blazes have occurred earlier in the year in recent times. The number of blazes in mid-May was rare and coincided with several decades-old records for mid-May temperatures having been broken or equaled.

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