Investigation of Calif. Firefighter Arsonist Revealed

Investigation of Calif. Firefighter Arsonist Revealed

11 January 2014

published by www.firehouse.com


USA — Records kept by the forest service show Peterson worked for the Mendocino National Forest during his career with the agency. He was based at the Grindstone Ranger District headquartered in Willows.

In early 2012 Peterson pleaded guilty to petty theft charges in Tehama County that stemmed from a complaint filed by the forest service, according to online court records. He was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay fines and restitution.

Hotchkiss told fire investigators Peterson said he “really missed being a firefighter,” the search warrant report said.

According to the documents, a battery-operated Global Positioning System tracking device was placed on the pickup on Sept. 27, just over a week after his interview with investigators. The truck was parked outside Peterson’s Dixieland Drive residence at the time.

A second GPS tracking device later was placed on Peterson’s car to monitor his travels, which tied him to a number of suspicious fires he’s accused of setting. Fire investigators have said those fires appeared to have been ignited by storm-proof matches, which were found on the scene of the blazes.

Peterson was arrested Dec. 17 and has pleaded not guilty to 71 felony counts, including murder. He remains in Shasta County Jail with bail set at $3 million.

He is due to return to Shasta County Superior Court on Jan. 16 for the possible setting of his preliminary hearing date.

Other fires attributed to Peterson

Here’s a timeline and brief description of the fires Zane Wallace Peterson is accused of setting:

Sept. 6:

Panda Fire: .20-acres of brush off China Gulch Road in Happy Valley area.

Sept. 8:

Happy Fire: .20-acres of grass and brush in Happy Valley area.

Sept. 9:

Clover Fire: 8,0876-acres, one death, destroyed 68 homes in Happy Valley and Igo areas.

Oct. 8:

Gulch Fire: .20-acres of grass and brush off Canyon and China Gulch roads in Happy Valley area.

Oct. 9:

Forty Fire: .70-acres of grass and brush off Old 44 Drive east of Redding in Palo Cedro area.

Oct. 11:

Logan Fire: 11-foot by 6-foot spot of grass and brush off Old 44 Drive east of Redding in Palo Cedro area.

Nov. 11:

Hawthorne Fire: Small spot along Hawthorne Avenue in Happy Valley area.
 


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