A Redding police sergeant driving through through north Redding along Twin View Boulevard just past Constitution at 4 am Thursday morning must have thought he was approaching the scene of an accident as he saw glowing lights in the middle of the roadway ahead. But it was nothing of the kind.
According to a Redding PD press release, as it turned out, Sergeant Mike Wood actually came across a half dozen small campfires set in the middle of the roadway, along the double yellow lines. stopping to investigate this bizarre situation, he soon encountered a man walking south on the road, and detained him. The man was 44-year-old Clint Michael Bell of Shasta Lake City, a town just a few miles north of Redding.
Sergeant Wood contacted Redding Fire to respond to the burning fires, and they found a total of 12 similar fires had been set along the roadway, but no vegetation or buildings were affected.
It was discovered the Bell had gone to a business nearby, bought gas and a container, and walked along the road setting fires as he went. He claimed that he himself was a firefighter, and he specialized in fighting wildland fires. He claimed he was simply trying to light his way in the darkness.
Bell’s story lends itself to a certain amount of skepticism, especially to the firefighters on the scene, no doubt. His own past record of recent arrests shows one last November for possession of narcotics, and two DUI’s in December and January. In any case, Bell was arrested and booked at the Shasta County jail charged with arson.