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Teacher charged in Coe wildfire

SAN JOSE -- A teacher has been charged in connection with a 47,760-acre wildfire near Henry W. Coe State Park, the Santa Clara district attorney's office announced Wednesday.

Margaret Pavese, 50, of San Juan Bautista, is facing one count of misdemeanor failure to exercise reasonable care in the disposal of flammable materials. She wasn't charged with felony arson because she did not intend to start the wildfire, said Assistant District Attorney David Howe.

Pavese met with fire investigators soon after the blaze started.

Fire protection officials said she allegedly started the blaze when she torched trash on property she owned. The flames quickly spread to nearby dry grasses and burned out of control for more than a week, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection officials said.

Messages left for Pavese were not returned.

If convicted, she may face up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine and could be required to pick up a portion of the $13 million bill for fighting the fire, the district attorney's office said.

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