A district attorney's statement said Jose Jesus Baca Jr. was charged Thursday with four felony counts of residential burglary five felony counts of arson, and three other felonies.
Baca is accused of lighting fires, mostly in apartment complexes in Irvine and Fullerton, between Dec. 18 and Jan. 20.
Prosecutors say Baca would then run through the surrounding neighborhood encouraging people to evacuate their homes. He would then enter homes and steal items including wallets and jewelry.
One fire Sunday in Fullerton spread to several housing units and caused more than $1 million damage.
Baca was arrested Tuesday in a Brea motel.