A boy has been charged with arson after authorities say he started a blaze in central California that led to evacuations and cost more than $18 million to fight.

Madera County District Attorney David Linn tells The Fresno Bee (http://bit.ly/1NljxoR ) that the boy ignited the nearly 9-square-mile blaze while playing with a lighter and burning pine needles on July 25.

The prosecutor says the boy, who's under 14, also has been charged with unlawfully starting a fire. He's being held in juvenile detention.

The fire was contained Saturday after spreading across drought-stricken foothills and evacuating two communities north of Fresno. The U.S. Forest Service estimates it cost $18.3 million to control.

A hearing is set Aug. 26 for the boy, whose attorney argued against the unusual step of detaining him.

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Information from: The Fresno Bee, http://www.fresnobee.com