Released luminaria sparks large wildfire

SELAH, Wash. -- Police cited a man with second-degree reckless burning after a luminaria he released into the sky sparked a large wildfire last week near Yakima, the Yakima Daily Herald reported.

Alejandro B. Olivarez, 36, allegedly admitted to playing with small paper lanterns and candles at 10 p.m. Friday near Lookout Point and accidentally sparking the 500-acre blaze. Olivarez called firefighters and reported the flames and what happened, saying he hoped the luminaria would float harmlessly into the sky. Instead, the candles sparked the blaze that took 100 firefighters a few days to to put out and sent a thick haze of smoke over Yakima.

No homes were damaged in the blaze, the Herald reported.

Olivarez was charged with a gross misdemeanor and arrested on an outstanding warrant. He faces a $5,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

More than a dozen brush fires have started near Yakima since May.