A 45-year-old transient pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges that he started a 370-acre brush fire in the Montebello area.
Arturo Miallan Aguilar was arraigned on a charge of recklessly causing a fire, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Dubbed the Lincoln Fire, the blaze began shortly before 1:30 p.m. Sunday in a riverbed near the Whittier Narrow Reservoir.
Montebello city firefighters and L.A. County firefighters responded to the brush fire, which came amid extreme heat. The fire prompted evacuations and the closure of the 60 Freeway, leaving a thick cloud of smoke over the San Gabriel Valley.
Twelve homeless people were evacuated from the area during the firefight. Aguilar was arrested several hours after the fire started.
He was cooking in a homeless encampment when the fire started, according to Montebello police.
Four firefighers sustained minor injuries, authorities said Monday.
Aguilar faces three years in state prison if convicted.
L.A. County court records show three convictions for Aguilar for possession of a controlled substance, all in 2014.