SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - A transient was arrested by Santa Barbara County Sheriff's deputies after admitting to starting a brush fire at a homeless encampment while cooking, according to authorities.
The man told police that the fire was accidental. He was identified after an interview as 57-year old John Parker.
The blaze broke out at about 10:30 a.m. Thursday on the 4400 block of Hollister Avenue in a field of unincorporated Santa Barbara County. It is also where an historic cematary is located.
The fire burned a 20x20 foot area before firefighters put it out, said Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni. Some of the personal belongings found at the homeless camp were destroyed in the fire. They included clothing, furniture, and a variety of items strewn over the area. More than one camp was at the site and it appeared to be a small village in the trees.
The fire was extremely dangerous because a propane tank was also located in the camp.
Crews remained on scene until mop-up operations were completed.
No structures were threatened but the Ben Page Youth Center and Juvenile hall were nearby.