Investigators: Cocos Fire set by juvenile arsonist - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Investigators: Cocos Fire set by juvenile arsonist

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8/CNS) - An underage arsonist set a San Marcos-area wildfire that blackened nearly 2,000 acres two months ago and destroyed 40 structures, most of them homes, according to an investigation by the Sherriff’s Department's Arson Unit.

The minor suspected of igniting the so-called Cocos Fire on the afternoon of May 14 has been tracked down, but will not be publicly identified because the alleged arsonist is underage, according to sheriff's officials.

The case has been forwarded to the District Attorney's Office for consideration of criminal charges. An initial court hearing for the suspect in juvenile court has been scheduled for the morning of July 30.

The blaze was one of a spate of more than a dozen wildfires that erupted in the San Diego area amid critically hot, dry and windy conditions and went on to rage for days, burning down 65 structures, including 46 single-family homes. Several apartments and commercial structures also were destroyed.

Investigators have found no evidence linking the suspect in the Cocos Fire to any of the other blazes, sheriff's officials said.

During the spring firestorm, flames scorching tens of thousands of acres of brush across the county forced the evacuation of the Cal State San Marcos campus and temporarily closed numerous schools and businesses.

Damage to private property was estimated at a total of $29.8 million. Officials set the costs of extinguishing the wildfires at $27.9 million.

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