Wednesday, prosecutors said the 50-year-old San Juan Bautista schoolteacher had been formally charged in the blaze, detailing for the first time how the tiny flames on her hillside property sprawled into a 47,760-acre wildfire that raged out of control for more than a week.
Three hours after she lit the fire, prosecutors said, she heard what sounded like running water and rushed outside, only to find the flames leaping from the barrel. She sprayed them with a garden hose, but to no avail. Without a phone and unable to find her car keys to get help, she grabbed the closest thing she could – a shotgun.
She fired three rounds into the air, hoping to alert her husband who was out chopping firewood, prosecutors said. Hearing the blasts, he returned to help her, picking up a garden hose of his own, but by then the blaze had already grown too big.
“I don’t think anyone was going to fight this fire with a garden hose,” said Frank Carrubba, Santa Clara County supervising deputy district attorney.
The story goes on to describe it as an accident that got out of hand.