DA drops case against man over Santa Margarita fire that destroyed actor’s home

Hill Fire

David Lynn Macagni


The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office has dropped its case against an elderly sex offender who was accused of starting a 2017 fire in rural Santa Margarita that destroyed the ranch of “Big Bang Theory” star Johnny Galecki. [Tribune]

The Hill Fire ignited on June 26, 2017, off Park Hill road and La Estrada east of Santa Margarita. The blaze burned 1,598 acres and destroyed a total of four structures, including Galecki’s ranch, which burned to the ground.

Galecki used the ranch as a getaway home, and the actor was frequently seen inside establishments in Santa Margarita and Pozo. 

Initially, Cal Fire reported the blaze was started by a vehicle fire that spread into vegetation. But, prosecutors later charged David Lynn Macagni, 77, with a single misdemeanor count of recklessly causing a fire of a structure or forest.

Macagni’s trial was due to begin next week. But at a readiness conference on Wednesday, the prosecution filed a motion to dismiss the case because of insufficient evidence.

If Macagni had been convicted, he would have faced a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

According to the Megan’s Law database, Macagni lives on Park Hill Road in Santa Margarita. In 1964, Macagni was convicted of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14. 

In the aftermath of the blaze, Galecki posted a photo on Instagram of himself hugging a firefighter, and he thanked “the brothers and sisters of Cal Fire.” Galecki announced in 2019 that he was selling the rural Santa Margarita property.