A 68-year-old man from the Kansas City region is likely to spend the rest of his life behind bars after he allegedly traveled from Missouri to Northern California with the intention of setting over a dozen wildfires throughout the fire-prone Golden State. Freddie Owen Graham of Lone Jack, MO, was jailed Thursday on $500,000 bail after being charged with 15 felony counts of arson. The suspected pyromaniac was arrested Monday after he tried to drop off the rental car he used in the arson spree, which burned nearly 130 acres of brush. According to East Bay Times, Graham rented the car after arriving in the Bay Area and drove toward the Calaveras Reservoir east of Milpitas, where he then threw flaming fast food napkins into the dry, grassy foothills, setting off 13 fires within a 24-hour span over the weekend... Santa Clara County’s supervising deputy district attorney Bud Porter said: “The fires were set with a lighter, setting paper on fire and throwing it out the window of the car.” Santa Clara County prosecutors say that Graham set four fires Friday and nine more on Saturday before he attempted to return a car at a Hertz rental company location at Mineta San Jose International Airport on Monday. It was at that point that he was arrested by officials from CAL FIRE—or the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Graham had seemingly been unaware that a witness spotted his car during the rampage and took note of his license plate number before handing it to CAL FIRE investigators. Porter said: “But for that Good Samaritan coming forward with the license plate, this crime probably would never have been solved.” Fortunately, the fires, which have been collectively dubbed the Reservoir Fire, caused no major structural damage or injuries. The fires were extinguished thanks to firefighters who used aircraft, bulldozers, and other equipment for hours. One of the fires near the reservoir scorched nearly a quarter of a square mile. Through his public defender, Graham has refused to speak to the press and said that he has no public comment on his arrest. In total, the suspected arsonist is facing 13 felony counts of arson of brushland and two additional counts alleging an arson committed during a state of emergency. In March, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for the year’s wildfire season.
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