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Man charged in Old fire may change plea related to 2003 blaze

January 26, 2012 |  5:45 am

The man accused of setting a 2003 wildfire that destroyed 1,000 homes, charred mountain communities around Lake Arrowhead and led to five deaths may change his plea of not guilty when he appears in a San Bernardino County court Thursday morning.

Rickie Lee Fowler could face the death penalty for causing five deaths in the Oct. 25, 2003, blaze, known as the Old fire, which leveled San Bernardino's Del Rosa neighborhood and sent a firestorm up the San Bernardino Mountains, devastating communities including Crestline and Cedar Glen.

Those who died in the fire suffered heart attacks.

Court records show that during a Monday court hearing, Fowler’s attorney suggested to the judge that Fowler "would like to change his plea."

The prosecutor requested time to consult with San Bernardino County Dist. Atty. Michael Ramos to discuss the possible change. The San Bernardino County Sun first reported Fowler’s request.

A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office declined Wednesday to comment on the development.

"At this time, it would be inappropriate to comment on any possible disposition," agency spokesman Christopher Lee said.

Fowler is scheduled to appear in court Thursday morning.


Fire victims muster up thanks

Residue sifted for clues to arson

San Bernardino man faces charges in fatal 2003 wildfire

 -- Phil Willon in Riverside