Manhattan Beach man suspected of starting fire with model rockets

Manhattan Beach man suspected of starting fire with model rockets

10 October 2007

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Park Rangers in Oceano say David Jaeger faces a $400 fine if convicted of sparking the 10 acre dune grass fire.

A Manhattan Beach man faces charges today for allegedly firing model rockets and sparking a fire that burned 10 acres of dune grass, and forced hundreds of campers to be evacuated from a popular beachside park in central California.

Park rangers at Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area said David Jaeger, 45, faces a $400 fine if convicted, and will be billed the costs for the 65 firefighters who needed three hours to put out the blaze.

About 200 people were quickly evacuated when flames broke out yesterday at the park’s tent camping area, 10 miles south of Pismo Beach and about 170 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

The San Luis Obispo Tribune reports that park rangers believe Jaeger had already fired four rockets into the air, when his fifth launch landed in dune grass and ignited it. Model rockets are legal in most of California but cannot be used in fire-prone areas and are specifically prohibited in state parks.

Rangers at the park in San Luis Obispo County did not have an estimate on firefighting costs, said supervising park ranger Tony Villareal.,/P.

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