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Transient In Custody After Allegedly Starting Fire In Backyard Of Residence

A Cuyama transient is in custody after allegedly starting a fire in the backyard of a residence and assaulting one of the homeowners.  Sixty-two-year-old Stephen Howland was arrested last Tuesday and charged with numerous felonies, including arson and assault with deadly weapon. Howland was permitted by a homeowner on Morales Street to stay in the backyard shop.  At approximately 11:20 p.m., one of the homeowners found Howland breaking off wood from a fence to fuel a fire he had started in the backyard.  The flames were four feet high and dangerously close to the house.  The homeowner attempted to douse the fire with a garden hose, but Howland allegedly hit her in the head with either a wooden board or a pellet gun.  When she called out to her family to call 911, Howland ran off into a nearby field. Police found Howland in the field carrying a crowbar in one hand and a knife in the other.  Howland refused to drop the weapons after numerous requests by the police and instead threw a knife in the direction of one the policemen. Police eventually took Howland into custody by using a bean bag round. The police also discovered that Howland was in possession of two additional knives and wire cutters.  Howland is currently in the Santa Barbara County Jail.

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