updated 11/17/2007 5:40:16 PM ET 2007-11-17T22:40:16

A volunteer firefighter who helped battle one of last month’s wildfires in San Diego County pleaded guilty years ago to setting several destructive wildfires.

Steven Santos Robles Jr. has been returned to prison because he violated parole by failing to tell his parole officer he had joined the Ranchita Volunteer Fire Department, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Robles is not suspected of setting any of last month’s fires, state fire officials said.

“We have had no other problems with him until this point,” said Jerome Marsh, a spokesman for the state parole department.

Robles, 30, pleaded guilty a decade ago to setting seven San Diego County wildfires that charred thousands of acres and destroyed about a dozen homes while he was a volunteer firefighter.

He was sentenced to 18 years in prison but was paroled in May.

No background check was required when he was accepted last month as a volunteer with the department in Ranchita, a community of 160 people.

On Oct. 21, he helped battle a fire that killed two people, burned more than 300 square miles and destroyed more than 1,000 homes.

Two weeks later, a state fire investigator recognized him.

Future volunteers will have to pass background checks, said Ranchita Fire Chief Gary Loyd.

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