A man who sent an email warning “this place will burn” is in the custody of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in connection with the investigation into the Holy fire.
Forrest Gordon Clark, 51, was arrested late Tuesday and is in custody at the Orange County Intake Release Center. He has a court appearance scheduled for Thursday.
Clark owns a cabin in the area that was devastated by the flames. Of the 14 cabins in one area, Clark’s is the only one still standing.
Deputies arrived at Cabin 14, where Clark has lived for more than a decade, around 10:15 a.m. Tuesday. He was questioned again and arrested Tuesday night.
A spokesman for So Cal Team One, which is handling media coverage of the fire, said he was “unaware of an arrest.”
“The cause of the fire is still under investigation,” said Thanh Nguyen, of So Cal Team One.
Volunteer Fire Chief Mike Milligan said he received threatening emails from Clark last week.
“He has issues,” Milligan said. “I hope they get him.”
Milligan said Clark ran through the community screaming last week and sent an email predicting Holy Jim, with roots to the Reconstruction Era, would burn.
Clark had a decade-long feud with his neighbor and other cabin owners, Milligan said. Clark has spouted conspiracy theories about Milligan running drugs, claimed he could read minds and at one point Tuesday stripped off his camouflage underwear.
Clark’s Facebook page, which says he attended Orangewood Academy, is filled with religious imagery, rants about a neighbor, references to marijuana and pictures of Clark’s face in which he says he has skin cancer. Clark is pictured on his Facebook page with a snake.
It appears that Clark has a long history of personal battles, according to court records.
A man with the same name and birth date was held involuntarily in 1996 at a treatment center for mental illness. In 2012, Mary Masayo Clark was granted a temporary restraining order against her son, a man named Forrest Clark, whose birth date is the same as the man arrested in connection with the fire. Clark said he had demanded money from her several times.
“There is no peace in my home when he is here,” she wrote in court documents.
Staff writer Sean Emery contributed to this story.