Eight of the 10 students accused of starting the wildly destructive Tea Fire were sentenced last Thursday.
After entering pleas of no-contest to trespassing and unlawfully building a campfire, seven of the defendants – Fahad Al-Fadhel, Hope Sjohnet Dunlap, Casey Lamonte, Natalie Maese, Carver McLellan, Stephen Reid and Lauren Vazquez – were sentenced to serve 75 hours of community service, two years of probation and pay $500 in fines.
The last defendant, Joshua Decker-Trinidad, decided to serve 61 days in the Santa Barbara County Jail in order to avoid probation. He will also reportedly apply for an electronic monitoring device.
Two other defendants, Mohammed Alessam and Hashim Ali Hassan, received two years probation and 75 hours of community service after pleading no contest in March. They were charged with misdemeanor trespassing and building a fire without a permit, but the illegal campfire charge was dropped after they entered a no-contest plea.
The students – nine of whom attend Santa Barbara City College – avoided harsher criminal charges because the district attorney’s office was unable to prove the Tea Fire was a direct result of the students’ campfire.
The fire, which started last November in the Montecito Tea Garden, destroyed more than 200 homes and scorched over 2,000 acres in Santa Barbara and Montecito.