A man accused of starting the devastating Holy Fire in Southern California’s Orange County is a conspiracy theorist who posted videos about satanic rituals and “QAnon,” a conspiracy-themed subreddit, according to the Huffington Post.
Forrest Clark, 51, now in custody, allegedly texted “This place is going to burn” to a volunteer fire chief two weeks before the fire.
The Holy Fire, still raging at the time of this post, has burned over 20,000 acres and destroyed 12 homes.
Clark, who was described as “a former landscaper,” was arrested shirtless at his home. He faces two felony counts of arson and one misdemeanor count of resisting arrest. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.
Mike Milligan, chief of the Holy Jim Volunteer Fire Department, reportedly showed CNN the text messages. He stated that area residents who knew Clark were frightened of him.
“For us, it’s disappointing because he is just a scourge on this canyon,” Milligan told local media. “Every single person in this canyon is afraid of him — number one, avoids him; number two, knew he was going to do something crazy.”
On July 23, Orange County sheriff’s deputies received a call reporting “erratic behavior” on Clark’s part. They placed him under a psychiatric hold, according to the Associated Press. The department did not say when he was released from custody following the expiration of the hold.
Clark posted dozens of videos over the years on his Facebook page about absurd conspiracies, including one purporting that Satanists run amok and are secretly controlling the world. More recently, he’d posted that someone deep within the U.S. intelligence community is posting “clues” on troll message boards about a coming political reckoning.