Photo: Frederick Graham
MILPITAS — Over the weekend Milpitas experienced multiple arson grass fires. According to the Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office, a witness observed the suspect 68-year-old Frederick Graham, as he parked near a grass fire that was starting to burn.
The witness took down the suspects license plate number and advised police of his suspicious activity. According to Bud Porter, Supervising Deputy District Attorney for Santa Clara County, “The fires were set with a lighter, setting piece of paper on fire and then throwing it out the window of the car.” A total of six fires were set.
Cal Fire responded to a fire in the eastern foothills in Milpitas near Ed Levin Park on Friday and then responded to a second fire that burned near the Calaveras Reservoir on Saturday. The fire was 30% contained on Saturday evening but continued to burn throughout the weekend. A total of 128-acres were burned.
Authorities arrested Graham after the reported license plate linked him to a car rental facility at the San Jose Mineta Airport. “He flew into town on Thursday in San Jose. Set the fires on Friday and Saturday, and then had plans to return back to Missouri,” said Bud Porter, Supervising Deputy District Attorney for Santa Clara County.
Graham is a convicted arsonist and is a resident of Lonejack, Missouri. It is suspected that he flew in Thursday, Sept 19, 2019, with the intent to start fires in the area.
Graham has been charged with 13-counts of arson, including two in which he started a fire during a state emergency. California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a “state of emergency” back in March of 2019 in order to advance resources towards combating fires in high-risk areas.
“We are just appreciative that the public was able to provide us with information that was instrumental in our officers making the arrest,” said Cal Fire Division Chief Mike Marcucci.
Graham’s bail has been set at $2-million. He is expected to appear again in court on September 30, 2019, for a preliminary hearing.