The federal government Thursday sued a Riverside County homeowner, alleging that his negligent maintenance led to a 27,500-acre wildfire in 2013 that destroyed more than 20 buildings and forced thousands of residents to evacuate.
In a lawsuit filed in federal court, prosecutors from the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles contend that an electrical box on Tarek M. Al-Shawaf’s 20-acre property shot sparks, igniting what was dubbed the Mountain fire.
But an attorney representing Al-Shawaf has disputed the government’s claims and said his client was not responsible for starting the inferno.
The blaze broke out on July 15, 2013, near Idyllwild and charred through a large swath of rugged mountains southwest of Palm Springs. More than 3,000 firefighters battled the flames, which forced more than 5,000 residents to evacuate.
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