A 29-year-old man pleaded not guilty Thursday to a pair of felonies for allegedly causing a fire that displaced five adults from their single-story duplex in Desert Hot Springs.
Carl Johnson was charged with arson of an inhabited property and possession of a fire/explosive device. He pleaded not guilty to both counts on Thursday.
According to the District Attorney’s office, he was charged with an aggravating factor to count two, alleging that the offense involved acts disclosing a high degree of cruelty, viciousness, or callousness.
Johnson allegedly “arranged combustible items to accelerate the fire’s growth,” according to the DA’s office.
The fire was reported at 2:35 a.m. Monday in the 66000 block of Desert View Avenue, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.
The duplex was fully involved in flames when firefighters arrived, officials said.
The American Red Cross was called to the scene to assist the displaced residents. No injuries were reported.
Johnson was booked into the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning and was being held without bail.
According to court records, Johnson pleaded guilty in January to violating a restraining order and battery on a person with whom he was living. He was on probation in that case when he allegedly caused the fire.