MADERA – Due to the expanding acreage and uncertain nature of the Willow Fire, Madera County District Attorney David Linn has announced that formal charges will not be filed this week as his office may not receive official reports from the US Forest Service until sometime next week.
Formal charges will not be filed until all reports have been received and all of the facts have been analyzed.
On July 28, the United States Forest Service Law Enforcement Investigators stated that the Willow Fire burning on the Sierra National Forest was human caused. The Willow Fire was reported about 2 p.m. on July 25 and has charred over 3,300 acres between North Fork and Bass Lake in the interim.
USFS Law Enforcement Officers, working in conjunction with the DA, have identified a juvenile male suspect in relation to the cause of the fire. Because of the age of the individual, no further details can be released at this time.
Linn told the media this week that a young boy was trying to light some branches on fire with a lighter, and though the family tried to put it out, the fire got away from them. If charges are filed and the juvenile is found guilty, he could face punishments ranging from probation to time in juvenile hall under the California Division of Juvenile Justice, says Linn.
Earlier in the week the DA declined to comment further on whether the suspect started the fire intentionally or whether it was an accident. Additional information regarding the cause, or identification of the suspect, may be made available after any charges are filed.
The Willow Fire started near the end of Willow Canyon Drive just north of North Fork and east of the southern end of Bass Lake.