By Mary O’KEEFE
The transient wanted by Los Angeles County Sheriff detectives for questioning in regard to the Lady Bug Fire was arraigned on Monday, Oct. 19 in Pasadena Superior Court. Babatunsin Olunkunle, 25, pleaded not guilty to one count of felony recklessly starting a fire. He was appointed a public defender and bail was set at $100,000. He is to return back to Pasadena Superior Court for a preliminary hearing on Nov. 19. Olukunle was arrested by deputies from the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station on Oct. 15.
The suspect was wanted for questioning regarding the Lady Bug Fire that occurred in the Angeles National Forest six days before and a few miles away from the Station Fire origin.
On Aug. 20, two U.S. Forest Service firefighters responded to a fire near the Lady Bug turnout in the Angeles National Forest. When they arrived they allegedly found Olunkunle at the scene. As they were fighting the fire, the suspect left the area.
There is no evidence Olunkunle has any connection with the larger Station Fire.
“We have a guy seen at a fire [a few days before] and six miles from the Station Fire [origin], we would be negligent if we didn’t investigate,” said Lt. Liam Gallagher, L.A. County sheriff homicide division.
The Station Fire is being investigated as an arson/homicide due to the deaths of two fire fighters who were battling the blaze.
Olunkunle has been charged with one felony count of recklessly starting a fire on forest, according to a Los Angeles County Superior Court spokeswoman.