FACT CHECK: Image Claims To Show Man Who Started Multiple California Wildfires In 2020

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows a man California police recently arrested for starting several wildfires in the state.

Verdict: False

The pictured man was arrested for arson related to California wildfires in 2018, not 2020. He was sentenced and jailed in 2019.

Fact Check: 

California, Oregon and Washington have been experiencing record-breaking wildfires since mid-August that have resulted in millions of acres of land being burned, according to BBC News. In recent weeks, social media platforms have become replete with misinformation regarding the West Coast wildfires, with this particular Facebook post claiming to show a man arrested for setting some of the blazes in California.

“Police in California on Wednesday arrested a 32-year-old man accused of setting multiple wildfires that have scorched thousands of acres and forced mass evacuations,” the text accompanying a police booking photo reads. “The fire killed five firefighters and consumed more than 41,000 acres.” (RELATED: Were 7 Antifa Activists Arrested In Medford, Oregon For Starting The Wildfires?)

Through a reverse image search, Check Your Fact found that the pictured man is actually Brandon N. McGlover, who was arrested in California in July 2018 on multiple counts of arson, according to ABC News. One of the fires prosecutors charged McGlover in connection with setting was the Cranston Fire, which burned over 13,000 acres and destroyed several homes in the area around the San Bernardino National Forest, per CNN.

McGlover pled guilty in February 2019 to two counts of arson, receiving a sentence of 12 years in state prison and an order to pay restitution to victims of the fire, according to the Desert Sun. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation inmate locator shows that McGlover is currently in prison and is not eligible for parole until 2024, making it impossible that he could’ve been involved with the 2020 fires.

The Associated Press reported that lightning strikes caused hundreds of fires in California and at least one in Oregon. While at least one of the West Coast blazes is under investigation for possible arson, others were caused by human activities such as downed power lines or a spark from a “pyrotechnic device” used during a gender reveal party, per BBC News. Experts have said climate change plays a role in the size and severity of the fires, according to The New York Times.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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