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California fires spark calls for national arsonists registry

The hunt is on again for a California firebug, whose handiwork ripped through Los Angeles County over the past 30 days.

Killed: two firefighters. Destroyed: 89 homes, 26 businesses. Burned: 160,577 acres, the 10th largest wildland fire in California history and the largest ever blamed on arson.

The so-called Station fire was 98 percent contained as of Thursday night, but the flames have reignited the passion of California lawmakers over how to track and nail these deadly fire-starters.

Reps. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, and fellow Southern Californian Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Palm Springs, have renewed their call for a national registry of convicted arsonists — much like that for sex offenders.

California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer filed similar legislation last week on the Senate side.

"I'm determined to stay at this as long as it takes," said Schiff, a former federal prosecutor who, along with Bono Mack, first pushed for the measure in 2007.

California is one of only three states with its own arson registry, but lawmakers and fire investigators say that's not adequate. Serial arsonists have been known to move around, they say — including one arrested in a fire-starting spree last year in Lake County after committing similar crimes in Nevada.

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