MADERA COUNTY – The man accused of starting the Courtney Fire, that destroyed 30 homes in the Bass Lake Heights along Road 426 nearly a year ago, was back in Madera County Superior Court this morning.
Oscar Bustillos, of Apple Valley, Calif., will return to court on Nov. 3 for a jury trial. Bustillos remains free on bond pending the trial.
Bustillos was arrested in November of 2014, shortly after Cal Fire asked for a warrant, and was arraigned on Nov. 25, 2014. The defendant posted bail and was released on a $10,000 bond pending trial, after having pleaded not guilty to all charges.
At his arraignment Bustillos was charged with one felony count of “unlawfully causing a fire that causes an inhabited structure or inhabited property to burn,” along with two misdemeanor counts of carelessly or negligently starting a fire, for which he would face up to four years in prison if convicted.
The defendant was reportedly attempting to burn a deer carcass on Sept. 13, 2014, when the surrounding brush caught fire, igniting the 320-acre blaze that destroyed dozens of homes, outbuildings and vehicles. The fire caused the evacuation of entire neighborhoods along Road 426 and the south shore of Bass Lake, and residents were displaced for more than four days as crews battled to control the blaze.