Squaw Valley man accused of setting dozens of fires in Fresno County

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Michael Hamilton Senior is accused of setting fires around Fresno County from 2012 through 2015. (KFSN)

Michael Hamilton Senior is accused of setting fires around Fresno County from 2012 through 2015. On Wednesday, a judge revisited each of those fires, reading details from each count of arson he is facing.

"Ultimately destroying 11 acres of wildland and nearly destroying a home, the fire also threatened several other homes."

Cal Fire investigators believe he was linked to igniting more than 30 fires.

"It is our recommendation that Mr. Hamilton does not come out of prison because he will continue to light fires based on my training and experience."

Ten of those felony charges were proven to be linked to 70-year-old Hamilton, to which he pleaded no contest, while the other twenty charges were dropped.

Fire investigators connected the fires to Hamilton through similar causes and found two ripped pages at the scene of one of the fires that came from an owner's manual to Hamilton's car.

"We were able to find some similarities some of those would be for example a rock or weight of some kind in a bag, he would light the bag and then he would throw it into the forested area or the grasslands," said District Attorney Bob Whalen.

A Cal Fire assistant chief spoke to the court, saying these fires not only took up resources, but could have injured someone at home, nearby, or firefighters.

Hamilton has apologized for setting the fires, saying he was intoxicated but was aware of what he was doing and is glad no one was hurt, he also said in his statement he had no intent to hurt anyone.

The probation department at the district attorney's office thought 32 years would be an appropriate prison sentence. The court ended up sentencing him to 18 years in prison--but as a result of Proposition 57, he could be eligible for parole as soon as 6 years.

Hamilton is also expected to pay restitution to all of the victims whose properties were damaged by the fires.
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