Murder charges for US fire deaths

Last updated 10:02 29/01/2013

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An arsonist in the US has been sentenced to death for murdering five men who died of heart attacks during a Southern California wildfire a decade ago.

Superior Court Judge Michael Smith sentenced 31-year-old Rickie Lee Fowler after hearing from some of the victims' family members.

Fowler was convicted in August of five counts of first-degree murder and two counts of arson. A jury later recommended a death sentence for Fowler.

Prosecutors say Fowler lit the fire in 2003 out of rage after he was thrown out of a house where his family was staying.

The Old Fire scorched 91,000 acres (36,827 hectares) east of Los Angeles and destroyed 1,000 buildings while burning for nine days. The men died after their homes burned or as they tried to evacuate.

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- AP

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