Yuba County Man Pleads No-Contest to Arson Charges in Connection with Scott Fire
Above: James Matthew Fiske
(Photos courtesy of Yuba County District Attorney’s Office)
A Yuba County man has entered a plea of no contest after being formally charged with arson in relation to the Scott Fire.
According to a press release by the District Attorney’s Office, 34-year-old James Matthew Fiske of Browns Valley pled no contest on September 15 to charges of arson related to fires ignited in the vicinity of Scott Grant Road on June 15. The fires, collectively referred to as the Scott Fire, consumed approximately 115 acres before being contained by CAL FIRE personnel. No structures were damaged or lost in the incident.
As part of the negotiated plea agreement with the Yuba County District Attorney’s Office, Fiske will serve 21 years in prison. His sentencing has been scheduled for November 13, the District Attorney’s Office said.
Investigators from CAL FIRE NEU, led by Fire Chief Ryan Smith, conducted an extensive inquiry into the matter, which included obtaining video evidence from various residences and businesses. Investigators also served geofence search warrants with Google to identify potential suspects.
Video footage reportedly revealed that Fiske was in the vicinity of Scott Grant Road shortly before and after the fires were ignited. Following Fiske’s apprehension by deputies from the Yuba County Sheriff’s Department on July 20, a witness came forward to report that she was with Fiske when he set the fires. According to her account, Fiske, during an altercation, threw a lit storm match at her, causing significant burns. He then reportedly discarded storm matches from his vehicle along Wades Way.
Deputy District Attorney Andrew Naylor, representing the Yuba County District Attorney’s Office, negotiated the terms of the plea agreement with Fiske’s legal counsel.