If any kind of wildfire arson case is liable to incite rage in any Californian, what about the case of an alleged arson tourist who apparently flew here just to set the state on fire?
A 68-year-old man from Lonejack, Missouri has been charged with 15 counts of arson in connection with wildfires that burned 128 acres near Milpitas last weekend.
The Santa Clara District Attorney filed charges against Freddie Graham, after a witness placed his rental car at the scene of several wildfires that were sparked Friday and Saturday. As KPIX reports, the DA says that Graham flew into San Jose Thursday, from Missouri, set the fires on Friday and Saturday, and planned to fly back home after that.
Authorities arrested Graham trying to return his rental car at Mineta San Jose International Airport after a witnesses reported his license plate in the vicinity of the fires.
Supervising Deputy District Attorney Bud Porter tells the Mercury News, "But for that Good Samaritan coming forward with the license plate, this crime probably would never have been solved."
The fires were set along narrow roads that wind between Ed Levin Park and the Calaveras Reservoir. Prosecutors believe that Graham lit pieces of paper on fire with a lighter and tossed them out of his car window to spark the blazes. Any motive Graham might have remains unknown. While Friday's grass fires were extinguished quickly, the nine fires that were set on Saturday took most of the weekend to contain, and scorched 128 acres.
And this isn't the only fire-related thing Graham is alleged to have been up to in the last year. As local Missouri station KSHB reports, Graham was due in court yesterday back in Lone Jack related to an August 2018 case in which he's alleged to have intentionally set a load of hay on a semi tractor-trailer on fire. He was charged with knowingly burning or exploding by the Lone Jack Police Department, and authorities say Graham told them he was "mad" at the company that owned the semi truck for not hiring him to be a delivery driver last year.
In addition to 13 counts of felony arson in the Milpitas case, Graham has been charged with two additional arson counts alleging an arson committed during a state of emergency. He faces up to 22 years in prison if convicted.