Mark C. Anderson, the arsonist at the center of Tangled Vines, leaves prison
Mark C. Anderson, the man behind the vast wine warehouse fire I write about in Tangled Vines, has been released from federal prison. Records show he walked out the doors of Terminal Island in southern California on Oct. 6, 2022. Anderson, now 73, was given compassionate release because of his poor health. He is relocating to Sacramento and will be close to medical treatment at UC Davis. His health problems (prostrate cancer, a bad back, obesity) were exacerbated by a bad case of COVID-19 in April 2020, according to court documents. He now also has congestive heart failure and kidney disease.
Anderson had been sentenced to 27 years; he served about 17. What was his crime? On Oct. 12, 2005, the Sausalito photographer and wine lover lit a fire in his storage facility in the Wines Central warehouse on Mare Island in Vallejo. The fire destroyed 4.5 million bottles of premium wine from 95 wineries worth about $450 million. Among those bottles were 175 made by my great-great-grandfather Isaias W. Hellman in 1875 from a vineyard in Rancho Cucamonga in southern California. Anderson was also ordered to pay $70.3 million in restitution but that will never happen. “That is awful news!” one of his victims wrote me. “17 years sure went by fast. He ruined so many lives…”