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On Wednesday, July 10, 2013, Stephen Taylor Rutherford, 47, was charged with 13 felony counts of arson. He has been accused with the burning of more than 600 acres in the San Bernardino and Riverside counties, including the Mills Fire in Yucaipa. Rutherford is currently behind bars with a set bail amount of 5 million dollars. Paul E. Zellerbach, Riverside County’s district attorney said, “the high bail amount was necessary because Rutherford is considered a danger to the public.”
Authorities said, “They had been tracking Rutherford as an arson suspect for some time now, using surveillance videos and GPS technology that was installed on his vehicles.” Rutherford was arrested on June 28 of this year, the same day the Yucaipa Mills fire began to damage structures along the Mentone-Yucaipa border.
Rutherford is also accused of setting nine fires throughout the Riverside and San Bernardino counties. In September 2011 he was accused of setting four fires over the course of six days that together burned just under 100 acres of the Riverside County. In October 22 of that same year, he allegedly started two other fires that in total burned about 30 acres, and a year later on September 9, 2012 he was accused of setting a fire that burned about 4 acres.
The Mill fire in Yucaipa which started on Friday June, 28 of this year, has been reported to be Rutherford’s most destructive fire. Rutherford allegedly started a fire near Banning then crossed into the San Bernardino County to Mentone, where he allegedly started another fire that burned close to 600 acres, damaging four properties, including two houses.
Prosecutors said that although the final fire occurred in San Bernardino County, he will be tried for that fire, along with the other 8 fires he is accused of in Riverside County.
Rutherford pleaded not guilty at his arraignment and is scheduled to return to court on July, 16 of this year.