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Arraignment suspended for Holy fire arson suspect; judge orders psychiatric evaluation

Arraignment suspended for Holy fire arson suspect; judge orders psychiatric evaluation
Forrest Gordon Clark, 51, has been charged with multiple counts of arson in connection with the Holy fire. (Orange County Sheriff's Department)

Criminal proceedings were suspended Friday for the man accused of setting the nearly 23,000-acre Holy fire that tore through Orange and Riverside counties, the Orange County district attorney’s office said.

Psychiatric evaluations were ordered for the suspect after the judge questioned his mental competency, the district attorney’s office said. Forrest Gordon Clark, 51, has been charged with multiple counts of arson in connection with the Holy fire.

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In court Friday, prosecutors argued that Clark “presents an unreasonable risk of danger to society and presents a clear threat to public safety.”

Clark has not yet been arraigned. He is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 10. The judge did not grant bail.

Last week, Clark gave a rambling interview to a television reporter, claiming to know nothing about how the fire started.

Clark’s Facebook page is littered with links to popular conspiracy theories involving the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, a mass shooting that left dozens dead in Las Vegas last year and “QAnon,” whose followers believe a secretive government source nicknamed “Q” has been leaking information that proves President Trump's election was part of a broader effort to take down an international criminal cabal involving Hillary Clinton and others.

The movement gained media attention in recent weeks after Trump supporters were seen holding “Q” signs at some of the president’s recent rallies.

In postings published in mid-July, Clark also complained about a neighbor in Trabuco Canyon who he accused of using drugs and inviting gang members into the neighborhood. Clark also accused the man of stealing something from his cabin, according to the post.

The Holy fire, which started Aug. 6 near Trabuco Canyon, has grown to 22,986 acres. The fire destroyed 18 homes and prompted the evacuation of hundreds of others.

The fire is 85% contained.

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