The man charged with starting the devastating Creek County wildlife almost four years ago was in a Creek County courtroom Friday for his arraignment on third-degree arson charges.
Billy Cloud is accused of starting the 2012 Creek County wildfire that destroyed nearly 400 homes and burned almost 60,000 acres. But he told us he’s innocent and wants the truth to come out.
When Cloud walked into the courtroom, he looked for his family and smiled at them. And when he walked out of the courthouse, he answered many of our questions for the first time.
Wearing an orange jail suit, handcuffed to about a dozen other inmates, Cloud walked into the courthouse with just one thing to say to our camera, “Free man.”
Inside the courtroom, the judge read Cloud his rights and asked if he had an attorney. Cloud told the judge he doesn't have one yet, but plans on hiring one soon.
The judge then entered a not guilty plea on Cloud's behalf, which is standard procedure.
As Cloud left the courtroom, he politely answered our questions.
Tess: “You're accused of starting that fire that destroyed nearly 400 homes. Do you have anything to say about those accusations?
Cloud: “I'm innocent. That's all I got to say about that.”
Court records say Cloud started the large 2012 Creek County wildfire by throwing a lit cigarette on dry ground during a statewide burn ban. The affidavit says Cloud was drunk at the time and did nothing to put the fire out.
“After all this, everything will come out truthfully. I'm not worried about it,” he said.
He was charged with third-degree arson almost four years ago but never turned himself in. Instead, he was arrested during a warrant sweep last week.
We asked why he never turned himself in if he's innocent.
“I don't think I have to be in jail for something...ain't nobody has to be in jail for something they didn't do...so that's it. That's all,” Cloud said.
Through social media we've seen many commenters showing support for Cloud. His sister told us he's a kind-hearted man who is not guilty of the charges against him.
"Thank you very much for supporting me and I really appreciate it," Cloud said.
The judge set Cloud's next hearing for May 20.
His bond is set at $40,000.