New trial date set for man charged in Caribou Hills wildfire

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2008

KENAI - A new trial date has been set in the case of a California man charged in a wildfire in the Caribou Hills that blackened more than 55,000 acres last summer and destroyed 53 cabins.

A two-week continuance was granted Thursday in the case. Kenai District Court Magistrate Jerry Anderson set a new trial call date for March 6.

Charles Partridge Jr., 61, of Santa Maria, Calif., was cited by the Alaska Division of Forestry last June with one count of uncontrolled spread of fire after sparks from a grinder he was using to sharpen a shovel began the fire. The sparks ignited grass and the fire spread off the property where he was working, according to the charging document.

A former Soldotna resident, Partridge said he was helping build a cabin for his son in the Caribou Hills area east of Ninilchik.

High winds and low humidity fanned the blaze, which eventually burned at least 53 cabins and residences, 79 outbuildings and 55,648 acres.

Firefighters worked more than two weeks to contain the fire.

More than 500 firefighters from across the country and Canada helped battle the blaze.

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