Remember the raging hellfire that threatened to burn down Avalon on Catalina Island in the spring of 2007?
Island residents will not soon forget and will forever give thanks to a last-minute shift in wind that spared the historic community and perhaps many lives.
Indiana's Gary Dennis Hunt will not forget either. He was deemed responsible for igniting the blaze, accidentally, while working as a subcontractor, and this week was ordered to pay $11.9 million in restitution to Southern California Edison. That's in addition to the $4-plus million Hunt was ordered to pay last August to three other entities.
Hunt, 51, pleaded no contest last February to recklessly igniting the fire with a torch he used on cables while working on a radio tower. He was sentenced to five years probation, plus either 720 hours of community service or 90 days of jail, or Caltrans service. Insurance will cover some of his restitution.
The fire burned out of control and destroyed one home and other structures, plus 4,000 acres of brush. In its aftermath Catalina Island Conservancy teams made it a top priority to bring back native flora and protect it from browsing deer.
-- Pete Thomas
Photo courtesy of John Talsky