A Temecula man pleaded guilty on Thursday to purposefully sparking last summer’s Cranston Fire that destroyed at least five homes as it consumed more than 13,000 acres in the San Bernardino National Forest area, prosecutors said.
Brandon McGlover, 33, was convicted on two counts of burning of a structure or forest land, Riverside County district attorney’s officials said in a news release.
McGlover entered the plea after striking a deal with prosecutors, who dismissed seven other arson counts he had been facing.
He was immediately given the maximum possible sentence of 12 years and four months in state prison, and was ordered to pay restitution to all the victims, prosecutors said.
McGlover was arrested last year on July 25, the same day the destructive Cranston Fire erupted, on suspicion of starting that and five other fires along Highway 74 in the National Forest.
Days later he was charged with sparking nine separate blazes, but prosecutors said they amended his counts based on “a thorough review of the evidence in the case,” including testimony and facts presented at McGlover’s preliminary hearing.
“The original charges filed against McGlover required proving to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that he had a specific intent to burn structures, which the evidence in the case does not support,” the DA’s release states.
He could have potentially faced a life sentence if he were convicted on all the original counts.
The Cranston Fire took weeks to fully contain, forced thousands of evacuations and prompted then-Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency in Riverside County.