Police just arrested a conservative conspiracy nut for starting California’s massive fire

The Holy Fire in Cleveland National Park is one of twenty blazes currently raging in the state of California. It has consumed over 10,000 acres of land and stretches 33.5 miles and at the time of writing was only 29% contained.

But this fire is different because new reports indicate that it was set deliberately by a far-right wing conspiracy nut. Forrest Gordon Clark, 51, was arrested and charged with “aggravated arson, arson of inhabited property and arson of forest, along with one criminal threat charge and two counts of resisting arrest.”

Last week, Clark sent emails to the volunteer fire department chief warning him that “this place will burn.” It would appear that he made good on his threats.

An examination of his social media accounts quickly revealed that Clark was a far-right wing “sovereign citizen” extremist who was a huge fan of the MAGA Trumper conspiracies like “Pizzagate” (the allegation that Hillary Clinton and prominent Democrats ran a secret satanic child sex cult in the basement of D.C.’s Comet Ping Pong pizza) and “QAnon” (an anonymous account on 4chan/8chan that purports to be a senior military official or White House staffer who is exposing the conspiracy by the “deep state” to sabotage President Trump).

But his conspiracy theory obsession also extended to more flammable subject matter:

Clarke has rejected the charges as “lies” and could face life in prison if convicted. He is clearly battling with mental instability and is so volatile that his own mother and brother were forced to take out a restraining order against him for his abusive behavior.

In light of the recent controversy over the banning of far-right wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones from major social media platforms, Clarke’s story is a terrifying reminder that while it may be amusing to make fun of ideas like “the government is putting chemicals in the water that turn frogs gay,” the consequences of letting these ideas roam unchecked can be devastating.

Natalie Dickinson

Natalie is a staff writer for the Washington Press. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been freelance blogging and writing for progressive outlets ever since.