District Attorney Michael A. Ramos announced plans to seek capital punishment for Fowler on Thursday in a statement.
"A decision to seek the death penalty in a case is never an easy one," Ramos said. "In fact, it's the most difficult one we make as prosecutors. We never take that responsibility lightly."
The Old Fire, which began on Oct. 25, 2003, in Old Waterman Canyon, burned more than 91,000 acres and consumed 940 homes from Del Rosa to Cedar Glen.
Fowler faces five counts of murder for people who died from heart attacks that prosecutors say were brought on by the stress of evacuation and threats to homes and belongings.
Fowler's lawyer, Donald Jordan, said he was "shocked and dismayed" at the announcement by Ramos.
"I think that it is a tremendous abuse of the capital system in California to seek death against Rickie Fowler," Jordan said.
The five victims died of medical reasons, days after the fire, the defense lawyer explained.
"They were not being suffocated from smoke," said Jordan. "They weren't fleeing the fire behind them. These are people who died as a part of life."
Fowler was also charged with arson of an inhabited structure, aggravated arson, and special circumstances which make the case eligible for the death penalty.
The defendant was indicted by the grand jury, and he pleaded not guilty to charges at his arraignment Nov. 12. He returns to court March 30.