VICTORVILLE - Two Adelanto men authorities believe to be connected with fires at a local apartment complexes were behind bars and expected to be arraigned in a Victorville courtroom Tuesday afternoon if criminally charged by prosecutors.
San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department deputies arrested Cody Michael McGee, 25, and Jerry Paul Fontaine, 50, early Saturday morning at the Mountain Vista Apartments, located in the 15400 block of Nisqualli Road, booking records show.
San Bernardino County Fire Department officials said McGee and Fontaine were arrested during a "joint surveillance operation" after a dumpster fire at the nearby Golden Sands Apartment complex in Victorville.
Booking records show McGee and Fontaine both live at a home in Adelanto in the 14400 block of Cambridge Street.
Victorville Sheriff's Station spokeswoman Mara Rodriguez said Fontaine and McGee are believed to be connected with other fires at the Mountain Vista Apartments and several other local fires.
Fire Department officials believe the two are responsible for setting fire to hay bales at the J&K Feed and Pet Supplies in Hesperia too.
"Firefighters were instrumental in keeping the fire contained to the hay bales and away from adjacent structures and gas station," County Fire spokeswoman Tracey Martinez said in a statement.
Firefighters responded to three separate fires that were "attempted unsuccessfully" at the Hesperia Feed Bin also located in Hesperia. Fire officials then feared a serial arsonist was targeting the High Desert and set up a surveillance operation in conjunction with the Sheriff's Department.
"The safety of the residents in this county remains top priority for all of us in public safety. The arrests of these two suspects were a result of teamwork and determination," Sheriff John McMahon said in a statement.
The Daily Press previously reported that residents of the Mountain Vista Apartments were concerned that a serial arsonist was in their midst, with some claiming the property's management company was not doing enough to combat the issue.
Martinez told that Daily Press in December that firefighters had responded to a total of 30 fires at the property since the beginning of August. The majority of these blazes were dumpster and vegetation fires.
"One vegetation fire did cause damage to an apartment building, endangering the residents inside," Martinez said. "All other fires were quickly extinguished before the fire spread to adjacent structures."
The Daily Press was previously referred by Mountain Vista's local leasing office to E & S Ring Management Corporation, which manages the property. Portfolio manager Scott Seymour said the company was just as concerned as Mountain Vista's residents about the fires and was doing what it can to ensure residents' safety by maintaining contact with the Sheriff's Department and County Fire, adding extra patrols on the property, with additional security guards at night to try to find those responsible for the blazes.
Fontaine and McGee were being held at High Desert Detention Center in Adelanto each in lieu of $50,000 bail, booking records show.
Jose Quintero may be reached at 760-955-5332 or JQuintero@DesertDispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DP_JoseQ.