A 21-year-old former San Bernardino County Fire Explorer is suspected of starting numerous fires that resulted in more than $5 million in damages as a diversion to burglarize fire stations across Southern California, the Orange County Fire Authority said Tuesday.
Christian David Saddler, of Hesperia, has been serving a five-year prison sentence on an arson and burglary conviction since July, authorities said.
After a 2-year multi-agency investigation, detectives tied Saddler to other arson and burglary cases in Orange County, where new charges were filed against him, fire officials said.
Saddler is also suspected of setting fires in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, and had been previously arrested in Jan. 2017 on similar charges, authorities said.
Fire officials said Saddler “was familiar with fire department culture” because of his time as a fire explorer.