RIVERSIDE (CNS) - A 46-year-old man accused of igniting 10 fires around Diamond Valley Lake south of Hemet, burning acreage dedicated to wildlife preservation, pleaded not guilty Friday to arson and other charges.
Noel Lopez Mejia was arrested last week following an investigation by Cal Fire peace officers.
Mejia is charged with 10 counts of arson and one count of grand theft.
He was arraigned before Riverside County Superior Court Judge O.G. Magno, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for Jan. 9 at the Riverside Hall of Justice.
The defendant is being held in lieu of $610,000 at the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta.
According to the county fire department, Mejia is accused of lighting blazes between Sept. 29 and Nov. 26, resulting in a total 40 acres burned.