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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 8/16/2005 11:56:30 AM EDT
Judge to visit deadly fire scene before sentencing hunter
Tuesday August 16, 2005
SAN DIEGO (AP) A federal judge will take the unusual step of visiting the spot where California's biggest wildfire began before sentencing the novice deer hunter who admitted setting it.

The Cedar fire started on Oct. 25, 2003 in the Cleveland National Forest east of San Diego. It burned 422 square miles, killed 15 people, destroyed more than 2,400 homes and caused $819 million in property damage, according to Matt Streck, a spokesman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Sergio Martinez, 34, pleaded guilty March 10 to a felony charge of setting timber afire and faces up to five years in prison. Martinez said he was lost, dehydrated and disoriented when he set the fire in a misguided attempt to summon help.

U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez said he wants to see where the fire started and learn whether strong Santa Ana winds had begun blowing before Martinez ignited it in the afternoon.

Benitez said he's received letters from victims and others saying that the winds didn't begin blowing until 10 p.m.

``That might completely affect my sentencing,'' Benitez said. ``It's a world of difference starting the fire during a Santa Ana versus a time when the wind was relatively calm.''

Government lawyers in court filings said Martinez could see the road 1{ miles away and therefore didn't need to start a signal fire.

Conversely, if the road appears too far to hike to, Martinez should not have set a fire in an area so inaccessible to firefighters, they said.

Benitez may set a sentencing date on Sept. 21.

Martinez is free on a $100,000 bond secured by his parents' home, where he lives in West Covina, Calif., east of Los Angeles.

Link Posted: 8/16/2005 1:22:30 PM EDT
He was convicted (plead guilty) back in April or May.

Sergio Martinez was a dumbass for going into the wilderness unprepared for the conditions. He made some serious errors in judgement. But he's not entirely responsible for the fire.
Link Posted: 8/16/2005 3:14:34 PM EDT
If the Deers wouldnt have been in that forest this wouldnt have ever happened.I think they should BAN all the deers in Cali.
Link Posted: 8/16/2005 4:37:29 PM EDT
Maybe they could arm all the deer so they can shoot stupid hunters like him.
Link Posted: 8/16/2005 4:51:38 PM EDT
Sentence him to death he's too stupid to live.
Link Posted: 8/17/2005 5:28:25 AM EDT

Originally Posted By pieeater:
Sentence him to death he's too stupid to live.



My ex-wife suggested that he be imprisoned and given lessons until he demonstrates competence in wilderness survival, then do several years of probation teaching poor children how to be safe outdoors.
Link Posted: 8/17/2005 12:10:45 PM EDT

Originally Posted By California_Kid:
<snip>
He made some serious errors in judgement. But he's not entirely responsible for the fire.
</snip>



+1
Link Posted: 8/17/2005 12:29:39 PM EDT
he could see a road but decided to start a fire???

IDIOT!

even if it was 10 miles away that would only take you about 3.5 hours if you were slow.
Link Posted: 8/17/2005 9:32:00 PM EDT

"Soy sí un asno mudo..."
Link Posted: 8/17/2005 10:25:06 PM EDT
I say give him the maximum possible sentance for the charge he plead to.

HE COULD SEE THE DAMNED ROAD!

15 people died, unintentionally, I'm sure, but FIFTEEN people! - the charge should have been negligent manslaughter.

$819M damages, he should repay this,


Link Posted: 8/17/2005 11:50:27 PM EDT
I grew up in West Covina. Glad to see the city still produces smart people.
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 4:56:07 AM EDT
Now add to this stupidity that Mr. Martinez was stoned throughout all this after smoking some dope while on his hunting adventure.

I'm a little confused on the judge's intent on visiting the site. Since the weather conditions will be different when he visits than the day the fire started, how will visiting the site give him accurate information to help with his decision on the sentencing?

A good friend of mine was one of the first San Diego Sheriff's Office helicopter teams on site, not the ASTREA crew who airlifted Mr. Martinez out of the fire area, but arriving within minutes. He tells me that watching from the air that he was amazed at how fast the fire spread. Those who followed this event may know of the controversy that occurred when my friend's ASTREA helicopter was attempting to make several water bucket drops but CDF controlled the air and did not allow the drops as their policies did not allow for water drops so close to dusk. I was told that ASTREA felt that they had enough daylight left to make 3-4 drops. He admits though that the drops would have not been effective even if they were allowed to make them because the speed in which the fire spread.
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 7:03:28 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/18/2005 7:04:19 AM EDT by California_Kid]

Originally Posted By tatsuosan1964:
...
I'm a little confused on the judge's intent on visiting the site. Since the weather conditions will be different when he visits than the day the fire started, how will visiting the site give him accurate information to help with his decision on the sentencing?...



The judge has asked attorneys to stipulate what weather conditions were like at the time Martinez set the fire.


A good friend of mine was one of the first San Diego Sheriff's Office helicopter teams on site, not the ASTREA crew who airlifted Mr. Martinez out of the fire area, but arriving within minutes. He tells me that watching from the air that he was amazed at how fast the fire spread. Those who followed this event may know of the controversy that occurred when my friend's ASTREA helicopter was attempting to make several water bucket drops but CDF controlled the air and did not allow the drops as their policies did not allow for water drops so close to dusk. I was told that ASTREA felt that they had enough daylight left to make 3-4 drops. He admits though that the drops would have not been effective even if they were allowed to make them because the speed in which the fire spread.


That's just one example of human factors other than Martinez setting the fire that made the fire so bad.

We get huge fires here every few decades. They've been happening since long before European settlement. There was a bad one in 1956, the Iñaja fire, that killed several firefighters and damaged many homes. I remember a large one in 1970, the Laguna fire, which was started by a young Kumeyaay indian girl's campfire. Funny thing about that one, it took over 10 years for building codes to get updated to forbid cedar shake roofs on new homes. Most of the houses in the Scripps Ranch area that burned in October 2003, including one belonging to a family I know, were built in the '70s with shake roofs.

The Pines fire in 2002 was started by frickin' idjit California National Guardsmen flying low in a helicopter looking for marijuana plants in peoples' back yards. They cut a power line and damn near got themselves killed.

The whole Harbison Canyon area where a bunch of homes were lost was badly overgrown with old brush that should have been cleared by the county and/or homeowners. But some people were prevented from clearing their land by environmental laws. Others just screwed up and didn't clear brush they should have cleared.

Martinez is a doofus but he's not a murderer. Giving him a long prison sentence won't prevent any fires or crimes. He's the Mrs. O'Leary's Cow of the Cedar Fire. The stage was set by overgrown brush and bad human planning. The fire would have happened sooner or later even without Sergio Martinez' stupid mistakes.
Link Posted: 8/19/2005 1:34:56 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Mike_Mills:
I say give him the maximum possible sentance for the charge he plead to.

HE COULD SEE THE DAMNED ROAD!

15 people died, unintentionally, I'm sure, but FIFTEEN people! - the charge should have been negligent manslaughter.

$819M damages, he should repay this,





Brilliant Mike!

And where will this dillhole come up with even 1 million, let alone 819 million?
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