Man charged in fatal wildfire
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - A Meade County rancher has been charged
with murder and arson in the death of a 48-year-old firefighter who
died of burns received while fighting an August wildfire.
Ray Wicks, 71, was charged Monday in circuit court with
first-degree murder and third-degree arson in the death of David
Martin of Opal.
Wicks, of Red Owl, faces life in prison if he is convicted on
the murder charge.
Martin, a volunteer firefighter, died Aug. 6 at a hospital in
St. Paul, Minn. He had been burned over 80 percent of body on Aug.
1 while fighting a fire in east central Meade County.
He fell off a small fire truck and into the fire when the truck
hit a bump. Wind blowing at 30 mph to 35 mph pushed the fire over
him, said Stoneville Fire Chief Bob Young.
The arson charge stems from the fatal fire.
Wicks initially was charged with aggravated assault but
authorities upgraded the charge after Martin died.
The fire was one of several suspicious fires to break out in a
3-to 4-mile stretch between Red Owl and Marcus during a four-day
period. Wicks has not been charged with setting any other fires.
His next court date has been set for Oct. 28. He remains free on
bond.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press