A man suspected of starting several grass fires in Sonoma County over the weekend was apprehended by group of hunters and held until he was arrested by sheriff's deputies Sunday morning.
James Novak, 28, of Cloverdale, was taken into custody in a remote area near Pine Flat Road after a group of four hunters said they saw him start a grass fire, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office.
“We actually seen the guy lighting a fourth fire so we went ahead and apprehended him,” said Kody Bryant, one of the hunters.
Novak allegedly told the hunters he was starting a controlled burn, the sheriff's office said.
They detained Novak until the sheriff's office responded and took him into custody.
“He was really kind of erratic; he didn't have a clear story,” said Ian Collingwood, another hunter. “[He was] just really remorseful and wanted us to let him go. We told him we can't.”
The fire burned approximately one acre before it was contained, a Cal Fire dispatcher said.
“Could have started that fire and trapped us in there; he could have hurt other people. There's a lot of cabins out here,” said Gabe Naredo.
Novak was suspected of starting several other fires in Sonoma County on Saturday, including one that burned approximately 21 acres near Dutcher Creek Road at around 3:30 p.m., the sheriff's office said.
A witness apparently saw a man throwing lit flares out of a vehicle that was registered to Novak, according to the sheriff's office.
Deputies searched the area and went to Novak's Cloverdale residence on North Jefferson Street but were unable to locate him until Sunday, when he was tackled by the hunters.
A fire that started behind Novak's residence on Saturday was also under investigation, the sheriff's office said.
No structures were damaged and no one was injured as a result of the suspicious fires, according to a statement from the sheriff's office.
The case was still under investigation by Cal Fire and the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office as of Sunday afternoon.
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