As the Holy fire raged nearby and forced residents to flee their homes, the man accused of setting the 6,200-acre blaze sat in front of a news camera and said he had no idea how it started.
“I have no idea. I was asleep, I had two earplugs in,” said Forrest Clark, according to a video obtained by ABC 7 Eyewitness News.
In the rambling interview, Clark told the cameraman that gangs were after him and that he’d been up for more than 20 days after visiting Mission Hospital in South Orange County.
“I need to get on a TV so if I die, at least you know who did it,” he said, referring to the gangs. He added that he got locked out of his Trabuco Canyon cabin, then held up a set of keys.
The interviewer tried to focus the conversation back to the blaze.
“I need to know where we are, what the hell’s going on around us, what the helicopters are for?” the interviewer said.
Clark shrugged his shoulders.
“I just woke up dude, I got burned!” he said, pointing to a wound on his shoulder. “My stuff was all on fire. I ran out and my hoses were disconnected.”
Sometime later, authorities arrested the 51-year-old man on suspicion of two counts of felony arson, one count of felony threat to terrorize and one count of misdemeanor resisting arrest in connection with the ignition of the Holy fire. He was being held on $1-million bail.
It was not immediately clear how the fire was set but investigators said they identified Clark based on witness statements and physical findings at the fire.
Burning in the Cleveland National Forest, the Holy fire pushed closer to some homes on Wednesday and prompted a new round of evacuations. A dozen structures were destroyed by the blaze, which drew a response of more than 600 fire personnel as temperatures hit triple digits.