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Detectives probing Station fire want to speak with man tied to earlier blaze

October 12, 2009 | 11:39 am

Lanow.suspect L.A. County sheriff's homicide detectives trying to find the arsonist who set the deadly Station fire are looking for a man who was already wanted for questioning in connection with a smaller fire in the same general area six days earlier.

Officials are seeking the public's help in finding Babatunsin Olukunle. Olukunle is sought for questioning in the Lady Bug fire, which broke about Aug. 20 six miles from the Station fire ignition point along California 2 near a ranger station north of La Cañada Flintridge.

A law enforcement source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said it was unclear whether Olukunle had any connection to the Station fire but investigators want to talk to him because the Lady Bug fire was nearby.

Another source said Olukunle may have been seen near the Lady Bug fire, but it was unknown whether he was thought to be involved in the fire or simply a witness.

The Station fire broke out Aug. 26 and became the largest brush fire in L.A. County history.

The probe became a homicide investigation after two firefighters died when their truck fell 800 feet into a ravine as they tried to find an escape route from the flames for fellow firefighters.

L.A. County and the state have offered a $150,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the arsonist. The Station fire destroyed dozens of structures. Investigators believe a substance found near the fire’s point of origin helped spread the deadly blaze and it has emerged as a key piece of evidence in the arson probe, a source told The Times.

The source would not identify the substance but said it was found in the brush off Angeles Crest Highway, walking distance from the turnoff that is at the center of the arson probe.

-- Richard Winton, Andrew Blankstein and Ari B. Bloomekatz

Photo: Officials are seeking the public's help in finding Babatunsin Olukunle. Credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

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