Suspect behind massive California wildfire was steeped in conspiracies – ThinkProgress

The suspect behind one of the recent California wildfires surrounded himself with conspiracy theories. CREDIT: IRLAN KHAN / CREDIT

Southern California’s Holy Fire, sparked on Monday, has already scorched more than 18,000 acres as of Friday morning and forced over 20,000 residents to flee.

Now, authorities have identified the man suspected of igniting the massive blaze.

On Wednesday, local officials arrested 51-year-old Forrest Gordon Clark, charging him with two counts of felony arson, as well as another felony charge of threatening to terrorize.

After the charges were announced, the Washington Post reported that Clark had texted a local firefighter before the fire that the area was “going to burn just like we planned.” (It was unclear who else Clark may have been referring to). Clark is currently being held on $1 million bond.

While Clark hasn’t announced his rationale for allegedly sparking the blaze — one of 18 fires that are currently raging across California, including the largest wildfire in the state’s history — he appears to have a lengthy history of mental illness.

A glimpse through his social media presence also offers a clue into the world of conspiracy in which Clark, who claimed he could read minds, lived.

JJ MacNab, who covers anti-government extremism for Forbes, first identified Clark’s Facebook profile. A quick skim reveals just how many conspiracy theories Clark promulgated — and why he may have allegedly started the fire in the first place. Indeed, it appears there was no conspiracy theory too ludicrous for Clark to buy into.

For instance, Clark recently started pushing messaging around “QAnon,” a bizarre theory that a global Deep State network is trying to bring down President Donald Trump in order to further their nefarious aims. While there’s no indication Clark was among the QAnon supporters who have become increasingly prominent at Trump rallies, he nonetheless pushed pro-QAnon videos on his page.

Likewise, Clark appeared to be a fan of Alex Jones and InfoWars, which were recently banned by platforms like Apple and Facebook. Among the most popular theories Clark promoted on social media: notions that tragic events like the 9/11 attacks and the Sandy Hook shooting were “false flags.”

For good measure, Clark also pushed other Deep State-style conspiracy theories, including Agenda 21 — which claims the United Nations will effectively eliminate Americans’ sovereign rights — and Jade Helm, which posited that a 2015 military exercise would provide cover for the Obama administration to impose martial law.

There’s also indication Clark may have leaned on some of these conspiracy theories when looking for justification for allegedly setting the massive fire. Clark, who wrote on Facebook that he “will see the soon Coming of our LORD in the Clouds of Glory!”, posted late last year that the fires in California were direct evidence that Agenda 21 was afoot. The video claims that the fires show that “we’re seeing Agenda 21 in action,” adding that “Agenda 21 is here.”

Clark doesn’t seem to have posted on Facebook in nearly a month. However, it doesn’t appear that his belief in any and all conspiracy theories waned over the past few months. In his last posting, on July 18, Clark posted another video claiming that drinking a “special juice” will make cancer “die in just 42 hours!” The secret ingredient? Beets.