Missouri Man Charged With Arson for Starting Reservoir Fire in Milpitas

A Missouri man arrested last week for starting a series of fires in Milpitas made his first court appearance Monday. 

According to Santa Clara County prosecutors, 68-year-old Freddie Graham of Lone Jack, Missouri, is being charged with 13 counts of arson in connection with the Reservoir Fire. He did not enter a plea.

Fire crews continue to battle six fires near Calaveras Reservoir in Milpitas Saturday. The cause of the fires is under investigation. Officials have not said that they suspect arson, but they said they're not ruling anything out at this time. Marianne Favro reports.

Investigators say Graham set four fires on Sept. 21 and nine on Sept. 22. The combination of these fires was dubbed Reservoir Fire and it burned 128 acres, according to Cal Fire.

Warmer temperatures in the forecast have prompted the National Weather Service to issue a fire weather watch starting Monday night for the North and East Bay hills and higher elevations in the Diablo Range. Marianne Favro reports.

Graham was in town for his 50th high school reunion. He told investigators his wife died recently, and he was overcome with emotion as he drove on Calaveras Road because he had hoped to share the drive with her.

Authorities say a witness saw the suspect on Friday and provided a license plate number to investigators. On Saturday, the suspect returned to the area and began setting fires. 

Graham is also being charged with arson during a state of emergency. Earlier this summer, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a disaster declaration at the beginning of the fire season. 

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