Trial continues for teenage girl accused of arson - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Trial continues for teenage girl accused of arson

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Was an ember from a backyard fire enough to spark a devastating blaze that ripped through the North County last year? That's the question being taken up again in court Wednesday.

Trial continues for the teen girl accused of starting the Cocos Fire, which destroyed dozens of homes and blackened thousands of acres.

The unidentified teen, whose face we cannot show, sat in court Wednesday showing little emotion. During the second day of the non-jury trial, her neighbor Gunnar Stevens took the stand and described the fire as he saw it start.

"The ground was in flames, and it was underneath the trees," Stevens said.

Stevens, who lives on Washingtonian Drive in San Marcos, says he saw the fire burning in the canyon near his home on May 14. The district attorney showed several photos of the area.

The defendant was 13 at the time she is accused of starting a fire in her neighbor's yard using a branch and a lighter. The district attorney says that fire eventually sparked the huge Cocos Fire. The defense attorney argues that the fire that the teen allegedly set was not big enough for an ember to fly nearly one-half mile to Cocos Canyon.

The witness described how he saw embers fall all around him as he tried to fight the fire, and those embers created more hot spots which grew the fire all around him.

"The ground was too hard. I couldn't shovel any dirt. I didn't want to waste the time trying to get the hose, when I could throw dirt on it. It was too hard, and that's when I… went back and brought over the water hose," Stevens said.

If convicted of all charges, the teen faces more than 13 years in custody. The trial is expected to last two weeks.

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