YUBA CITY (CBS13) — His job is to put out fires, but a Beale Air Force Base firefighter is accused of setting them instead, and trying to kill a 13-year-old boy who allegedly caught him in the act.

Gabriela Valenzuela showed CBS13 the extensive damage left behind after her SUV and van were allegedly set ablaze by a man who is supposed to put fires out.

“I’ve never met him before in my life,” she said.

Yuba City Police say Beale airman Sterling Douglas set her vehicles on fire from the inside early Sunday morning. The Air Force base confirms Douglas worked as a firefighter.

But what he’s accused of doesn’t stop there.

Valenzuela says Douglas was inside another truck when they noticed the fires, and her 13-year-old son gave chase.

“[The suspect] had a knife in his hand,” she said.

Police say Sterling stabbed the boy, who jumped back—a move that likely meant the difference between life and death.

“I feel really lucky that he didn’t get hurt more than what he did,” she said.

CBS13 stopped by Sterling’s home, but nobody wanted to speak to us on camera.

Meanwhile, even police are still trying to make sense of it, especially based on the suspect’s job. They believe he knew what he was doing.

“It just surprised me because I think firefighters are there to save lives and help you when there is a fire, not to come do the fire,” Valenzuela said.


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