Missouri man charged with starting 13 forest fires in California

By Madison Dibble |

A man found himself in handcuffs while trying to fly home to Missouri after allegedly setting 13 forest fires in California.

Freddie Graham, 68, was apprehended before boarding a plane in San Jose and charged with starting forest fires in the Milpitas foothills. Graham had flown to California on Sept. 19 and spent two days in the state before attempting to fly back to Kansas City.

The fires in question burned 128 acres. Graham was charged with 15 counts of committing arson, two of which were heightened charges because the fires were started during a declared emergency.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom was forced to declare a statewide emergency on Sunday after approximately 200,000 people were evacuated as fires approached their homes.

After landing in California, Graham rented a vehicle to drive out to at-risk areas, authorities say, and was caught after a concerned citizen saw the vehicle near a fire and reported the license plate.

“The fires were set with a lighter, setting pieces of paper on fire and then throwing it out the window of the car,” said Supervising Deputy District Attorney for Santa Clara County Bud Porter. “But for that good Samaritan coming forward with the license plate, this crime probably would never have been solved.”

Graham is currently behind bars with a bail of $500,000. He could spend as long as 22 years in jail if found guilty for starting the fires during a declared emergency.

The charges out of California are not the only arson charges against Graham. He also faced charges for a vehicle lit on fire near his home in Lone Jack, Missouri. Prosecutors in that case claimed Graham ignited the vehicle out of revenge against an employer who declined to hire him.

Source:  Washington Examiner

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