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Most serious charge in wildfire case dropped

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- The most serious charge has been dropped against a private contractor blamed for a 4,200-acre Santa Cruz Mountains wildfire in 2008.

Santa Clara County prosecutors said on Monday they weren't confident they could prove a felony reckless-burning charge against contractor Channing Verden.

Verden still faces a misdemeanor count for failing to prevent the escape of a fire.

The San Jose Mercury News (http://bit.ly/XbOb6F ) says Verden left two debris piles smoldering and winds later kicked up sparks that started the weeklong wildfire.

Sixty-three homes and 69 outbuildings were destroyed.

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Information from: San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, http://www.mercurynews.com

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