Idaho officials are offering a $5,000 reward to anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual or individuals responsible for intentionally igniting a series of wildfires in rural southeastern Idaho.
The reward is being offered by a joint investigation taskforce including the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Power County Sheriff’s Office and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.
Idaho BLM Special Agent-in-Charge Loren Good said a similar pattern has been observed in each of these wildfires. “All were ignited in remote areas near roads with easy vehicle access. Each was ignited during the night in dry, highly flammable conditions, and quickly spreading through dry grass, shrubs and sagebrush.”
Alleged arson fires have burned thousands of acres during the last few summers, ranging in size from 10 acres to 10,000 acres. Suppression efforts have cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
Authorities hope that someone in the local area knows something about these arsons. “Perhaps those who started the wildfires have bragged about it in the community,” Good said. “We’re asking anyone with knowledge of who is doing this to come forward.”
The state and federal penalties for an arson fire are stiff. In Idaho, the penalty for third-degree arson is a maximum of 10 years in prison, fines up to $50,000 and restitution of firefighting costs. The federal penalty (18 USC 1855) is a maximum of 5 years in prison, fines and full restitution.
“We aggressively investigate all human-caused wildfires, especially when there is evidence that the fires may have been intentionally set,” Good said. “This series of wildfires is being investigated as a high priority of the BLM, Power County Sheriff’s Office and Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.
“Arsonists not only destroy private property and natural resources on public lands, but they also endanger the lives of the public and the firefighters who are responsible for suppressing the fires,” Good continued. “The safety and security of our communities and our fire crews are our paramount concern.”
The public can help assist in a wildfire investigation by following these tips: 1) Contact the local fire department or law enforcement agencies with an initial observation of suspicious activity; 2) Make a detailed record of suspicious activity, take photographs of the area if possible, and take good notes; 3) Record descriptions of any vehicles and license plate numbers in the surrounding area.
Anyone with information that might help investigators solve these human-caused fires is urged to call BLM Law Enforcement in Boise at (208) 373-4024.