“It’s a lie,” shouted Forrest Gordon Clark when charges that he had started the Holy Fire in Orange and Riverside Counties were read to him. The fire has now burned more than 18,000 acres in the two counties.
Clark appeared before a judge in a Santa Ana courthouse on Friday flanked by two attorneys, reported KTLA News.
Clark, 51, had been charged Thursday with aggravated arson of five or more inhabited structures, arson of inhabited property, arson of a forest, criminal threats, as well as two felony counts of resisting and deterring an executive officer. All of the counts are felonies.
He was scheduled to appear in court that day, but refused to leave his cell. He appeared in court in Santa Ana Friday, but his arraignment was again continued to Aug. 17.
At times, Clark paced while in handcuffs and flipped his long hair back. When the judge described his right to a preliminary hearing, Clark said, “I do not understand, though I will say, ‘yay’ at this time.” He then thanked the judge.
His bail was set at $1 million and Clark offered to pay the amount on the spot. “May I pay for that?” Clark asked the judge, video from the courtroom showed. “I can handle a million right now, easily.”
The blaze is now burning near Lake Elsinore and remains only 5 percent contained, according to the U.S. Forest Service. More than 21,000 people remain evacuated from about 7,500 homes.