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Former firefighter accused of starting massive blaze pleads not guilty

HAPPY VALLEY, Calif., Dec. 19 (UPI) -- A former firefighter accused of starting the Clover Fire in California in September has entered a plea of not guilty on charges of murder and arson.

Zane Peterson, 29, of Happy Valley is facing 71 charges for the September fire that killed Brian Henry, 55, and burned more than 8,000 acres, 60 homes and 130 other buildings in the southwestern part of Shasta County, the Record Searchlight of Redding reported.

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Peterson pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Shasta County Superior Court.

Peterson was arrested Tuesday after Cal Fire Capt. Scott McLean announced he was responsible for starting two fires that grew into the Clover Fire, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

"We don't know what the motive was," McLean said. "Hopefully something will come to light during his trial."

A hearing in the case has been scheduled for Jan. 2.

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