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Wildfire arson suspect in custody

October 19, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Nigerian immigrant has been arraigned on charges of setting a recent fire in the Angeles National Forest.Babatunsin Olukunle, 25, was detained in Lancaster last Thursday. He was arraigned at L.A. County Superior Court in Pasadena late Monday afternoon on one felony count of recklessly causing a fire.

Authorities believe the Nigerian man is responsible for starting the Lady Bug Fire, which was set six miles north of the Station Fire six days earlier.

The Lady Bug Fire has at least one suspicious similarity to the Station Fire, which charred 250 square miles in the Angeles National Forest, burned dozens of homes and claimed the lives of two L.A. County firefighters. It was started very close to the Angeles Crest Highway.

Off-duty personnel saw the fire shortly after it started. They also saw Olukunle, who took off into the woods.

Olukunle is also being questioned in connection to the Station Fire.

"He's a person of interest and I cannot elaborate further," said L.A. County Deputy District Attorney William Hodgman. "The matter is under investigation. Sheriff's homicide is working with Sheriff's arson investigators on the Station Fire at this time."

Olukunle will return to court November 19. If a resolution is not released, then a date for a preliminary hearing will be set, as well as a bail hearing.

Olukunle's bail has been set at $100,000.

If convicted of the arson charge, Olukunle faces a maximum of three years in state prison.

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