ENVIRONMENT

Former Firefighter Charged With Murder For Allegedly Starting Deadly Clover Fire

This Tuesday, Dec. 17 photo provided by the Shasta County, Calif., Sheriff shows Zane Wallace Peterson. A state fire official
This Tuesday, Dec. 17 photo provided by the Shasta County, Calif., Sheriff shows Zane Wallace Peterson. A state fire official said Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013 that Peterson, 29, a former firefighter, is in custody on suspicion of murder and arson in a rural Northern California wildfire that left one person dead and destroyed hundreds of structures. Peterson was arrested Tuesday for allegedly starting two fires that turned into the massive Clover Fire in Shasta County, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Capt. Scott McLean said. (AP Photo/Shasta County Sheriff) McLean said Peterson's arrest came after three months of investigation. Peterson is also accused of starting six other fires since September. He faces hundreds of charges related to the fires including arson causing great bodily injury, and arson of inhabited dwellings, and is being held without bail in the Shasta County Jail. He was scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday. It is not immediately known if he has a lawyer.

Former firefighter Zane Wallace Peterson, 29, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with arson and murder linked to the Clover Fire that burned through Shasta County, Calif. in September.

According to state fire captain Scott McLean, Peterson of Happy Valley ignited the two fires that grew into the weeklong blaze that burned more than 12 square miles, destroyed 50 plus homes, called more than 1,500 firefighters into action, cost $7 million to fight and killed 56-year-old Brian Henry.

Shasta County Senior Deputy District Attorney Ben Hanna confirmed with the Record Searchlight that Peterson was a former firefighter.

"This is a significant arson arrest for CAL FIRE, Shasta County and the residents who endured the Clover Fire and suffered losses,” CAL FIRE regional chief Doug Wenham said. “The tragic loss of life and so many homes at the hands of an intentional fire is a heinous act."

Peterson has also been accused of igniting six fires since the Clover Fire and now faces hundreds of related charges. He was scheduled to appear in court Wednesday and will face 25 years to life for the murder charge and 90 years for the arson charges if convicted.

McLean would not comment on Peterson’s possible motive.

"This is still an ongoing case," he said. "There's still more work to be done on our part to make sure this comes to a positive conclusion."

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