HIGHLAND, Calif. - A San Bernardino man has confessed to starting at least eight fires in the Inland Empire. Now, prosecutors say they've got enough evidence to convict him and put him behind bars.
Peter Granados has admitted to intentionally setting eight fires in the San Bernardino and Highland areas. The largest one he is accused of setting was the so-called Mart Fire, which burned out of control in the city of Highland on June 27.
Authorities said Granados started the fire in a ditch, then the blaze took off into the foothills along Highway 330.
The blaze charred nearly 700 acres and forced evacuations, but fortunately, no homes were destroyed.
Granados, 38, is the second alleged arsonist arrested in the area in the past three weeks. Earlier in August, a man who was once part of a fire department explorer program was charged with multiple counts of arson in connection with eight different fires in San Bernardino County.
"This is a criminal who willfully started a fire with the intention of creating destruction or bodily harm. We take that personally," said San Bernardino County Fire Department Chief Mark Hartwig.
Authorities are calling Granados the bicycle arsonist, because of his mode of transportation. Investigators said they have surveillance video of him actually setting fires.
"Several sources for the video surveillance were obtained by businesses and by some secluded cameras we placed in strategic locations to observe the foothill areas," said Fire Marshal Mike Horton.
San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos described Granados as a dangerous person.
"When I call him a criminal, this person is a criminal. He has a prior of a kidnap and a prior of a robbery. He served 10 years in state prison, and then he's out here committing these crimes," Ramos said.
Ramos said if convicted, Granados could get another 15 years in state prison.
"As I've said before and I'm going to say it again. You want to commit arson in this county, San Bernardino County, we're going to hold you responsible," Ramos said.
Authorities said Granados did not use a complex ignition device - just a lighter.