UKIAH, 10/5/18 — Charles Levi Kirk, 18 of Piercy, was arraigned on six charges of felony arson in Mendocino Superior court this morning. Judge Cindee Mayfield presided.
Kirk is accused of having started a number of fires around northern Mendocino County, including in Willits, Laytonville, Leggett, and Piercy. He plead not guilty to all charges, and is being held in lieu of $150,000 in bail. He is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on November 6.
Kirk was arrested for felony arson, along with the use of a device to accelerate the fire or delay ignition, on October 3 after a month-long investigation by Cal Fire and the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, which included a search of his property on September 26. He is accused of having started a number of fires in the northern Mendocino area during the 2018 fire season. The stack of evidence against him, which includes surveillance video, photos, witness statements, and other documents, was described as being several inches thick by Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster in court this morning. Kirk was represented by Macci Morse-Baldock. A young man with unkempt hair and stubble, Kirk appeared wearing a white and grey striped jail coveralls and entered pleas of not guilty, with multiple family members watching in the courtroom.
Eyster noted during the proceedings that the $150,000 bail was set in accordance with the county's bail fee schedule, but that it could technically, based on the charges, be raised an additional $50,000. However, he declined to request an increased bail amount in his role as prosecutor.
Cal Fire has not specified which individual fires incidents Kirk is alleged to have started. However, multiple vegetation fires in north county which occurred along various roadways, in brief succession and late at night, were accompanied by scanner chatter and descriptions from witnesses stating suspicious activity may be be the cause of the fire — including those on Shimmins Ridge, Highway 162, and along Highway 101. Additionally, witnesses to the Shimmins Fire, on Shimmins Ridge Rd. also claim to have seen someone leaving the scene, and to have found a container of acceleratant. The Shimmins Fire was followed by another small fire along Hwy. 162 within minutes.
Asked for specifics about which fires Kirk is alleged to have started, Cal Fire declined to specify, stating that they could not comment on an ongoing investigation.