Man suspected of serial arson pleads not guilty

Krysten Kellum / Mountain Democrat

PLACERVILLE, Calif. – A man who allegedly started five fires, three in Pollock Pines and two in Amador County, was arrested last week.

Steven Saunders, 27, pleaded not guilty to felony arson charges in an El Dorado County courtroom Oct. 25 following his Oct. 23 arrest, according to information from the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office. Firefighters responded to a suspicious series of fires Sept. 13-14 at commercial properties on Pony Express Trail in Pollock Pines, as well as fires in River Pines and Logtown Oct. 21 and Oct. 23. Through evidence obtained at the scenes, Cal Fire investigators determined all fires to be arson, Cal Fire officials note.

An early morning blaze Sept. 13 at the former Taco Bell on Pony Express Trail was followed by a brush fire that evening behind the nearby Family Dollar Store and a third fire early the next morning behind CVS Pharmacy. The Amador incidents include a 4 a.m. vegetation fire near Meadow View and Shenandoah roads and an afternoon fire in the area of Highway 49 and Ore Court.

El Dorado County Jail inmate records show Saunders was taken into custody on the 4800 block of Highway 49 in El Dorado and is held on $330,000 bail.

The DA’s Office reports Saunders’ most recent listed address is out of Roseville.

Saunders will return to El Dorado County Superior Court Department 1 for a pre-preliminary hearing at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 27.

Cal Fire urges the public to report suspicious fire activity through its arson tip line at (800) 468-4408.

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