New Cal Fire video shows origin of Cocos Fire - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

New Cal Fire video shows origin of Cocos Fire

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - For the first time, we are seeing video of the spot where Cal Fire says the massive Cocos wildfire started.

Only CBS News 8 was in court Tuesday when prosecutors showed the video during the trial of the teenage girl accused of starting the blaze.

The video showed the spot where prosecutors say the Cocos Fire started, in a canyon behind a home on Washingtonia Drive in San Marcos. The unidentified girl, who was 13 at the time, is accused of starting the fire using a lighter.

According to arson investigators, wind-blown embers from the Washingtonia Fire spread to a canyon a half-mile away off Cocos Drive, eventually starting the massive Cocos Fire That destroyed 36 homes.

"There was no other possible item at the base of that canyon that could have started that fire. It was in the main line of the Washingtonia Fire," Cal Fire Capt. Dave Laclair said.

The girl's defense attorney is challenging that conclusion, suggesting that a transient seen in the area could have started the fire off Cocos Drive.

But the fact that the teenager started the Washingtonia canyon fire is not in doubt, because the girl confessed during an hour-long interrogation by sheriff investigators. Neither an attorney nor her parents were present.

In California, police are allowed to question juveniles without a parent present, and it's up to the minor to ask for an attorney.

"It's amazing how much police can do with a child as far as interrogating them without a parent or lawyer present," defense attorney Kerry Armstrong said.

Armstrong is not involved in the Cocos Fire trial, but he says because the teenage girl agreed to talk to investigators, her confession can and will be used against her.

"Look at the spot she's in right now. If she had just kept her mouth shut -- under that law she could have done that -- and ask for lawyer, she may not be in the spot she's in now," he said.

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