Thursday, July 4, 2013

Southern California Man Charged With Nine Calif. Arson Fires Since 2011

 A 47-year-old Banning man was charged with 13 counts of felony arson in connection with setting fires that damaged four properties and burned hundreds of acres.

Steven Taylor Rutherford, 47, of Banning was charged with 13 felony counts of arson with enhancements for using a delayed ignition device and having a prior arson conviction. 
RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California man was charged Wednesday with setting nine arson fires since 2011 that burned a total of 670 acres in two counties east of Los Angeles, including one last week that damaged two homes.
Steven Taylor Rutherford, 47, of Banning was charged with 13 felony counts of arson with enhancements for using a delayed ignition device and having a prior arson conviction. He was expected in court later in the day, Riverside County District Attorney spokesman John Hall said.
It wasn't immediately clear if he had retained an attorney in advance of that court appearance or would be assigned a public defender by the judge.
Rutherford was arrested June 28 after a wildfire near Mentone that burned 534 acres and damaged four properties, including two homes, prosecutors said.
The other eight fires were in neighboring Riverside County and did less damage. All but the San Bernardino fire were extinguished at fewer than 55 acres in size, Hall said.
Arson investigators with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection had tracked Rutherford since 2011 using surveillance video from businesses and GPS tracking devices placed on his vehicles, Hall said.
He declined to be more specific citing the ongoing investigation.
Rutherford is charged with setting fires dating back to Sept. 6, 2011.

Prosecutors said Rutherford is charged with intentionally setting the following arson fires in and near the San Gorgonio Pass:

Sept. 6, 2011: Twin Fire near Highway 243 and Twin Pines Road, which burned about 5 acres.

Sept. 7, 2011: Banning Fire near Old Banning/Idyllwild Road, west of Highway 243, about 55 acres burned.

Sept. 11, 2011: Summit Fire near Highway 74 and Mile Marker 55, about two acres burned.

Sept. 11, 2011: Lambs Fire near Gilman Springs Road, east of Sanderson, about 35 acres burned.

Oct. 22, 2011: Water Fire in Whitewater Canyon north of Interstate 10, about 20 acres burned.

Oct. 22, 2011: Free Fire near Mt. Edna Road west of Highway 243, about 10 acres burned.

Sept. 9, 2012: Edna Fire near Highway 243, south of Wesley Street, about four acres burned.

June 28, 2013: Smith Fire near Highway 243 south of Banning, about five acres burned.

June 28, 2013: Mill Fire, which started next to Highway 38 at Newport Road in Mentone, about 534 acres burned, four properties damaged, including two homes.
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