Idaho Firefighter Charged With Setting Wildfire

The Karney Fire has jumped a portion of a fireline early Tuesday morning off the Robie Creek Road in an area called Mitchell Gulch in Boise County.

This flareup, estimated to have burned 250 acres as of 2 p.m. Tuesday, now threatens an additional 75 to 100 homes in the Wilderness Ranch subdivision area, which is northeast of Robie Creek. The Boise County Sheriff office is implementing additional evacuations on the Rush Creek Road and the top portion of Evergreen Road, both of which are in the Wilderness Ranch subdivision. The evacuation orders from Monday are still in effect along the Robie Creek Road.

Boise County Sheriff's officials say 18-year-old Nathaniel Fay Bartholomew has been arrested on a felony arson charge for intentionally causing the fire.

Sheriff's officials said Tuesday Bartholomew is a volunteer firefighter who lives in the Wilderness Ranch area. Officials say it appears as if Bartholomew set the blaze in some pine cones and other fuel at the side of the Robie Creek Road and that fire spread to a nearby home, where it got under the deck of a home and caught it on fire.

A suspected motive in the arson is unclear but Boise County Chief Deputy Dale Rogers said it is possible Bartholomew set the fire to get the attention of his father, who is also a firefighter.

The Red Cross has set up a shelter in the Idaho City High School gym for Wilderness Ranch residents who can't get to their homes.

Initial reports Monday suggested two structures were lost to the Karney Fire, but one may have been saved, a Boise County dispatcher said.

No one was living in the home that was lost, the dispatcher said. About 20 homes were threatened Monday night, and evacuations took place in the area of the fire.

As of 9:20 p.m., the fire had burned about 80 acres in the Robie Creek area. It started just before 4:30 p.m., between mile markers 5 and 6 on Robie Creek Road.

U.S. Forest Service spokesman Dave Olson said the fire burned aggressively at first.

"It has started to lay down some now that the evening has come on," he said.

More than 100 firefighters from least six agencies — the Forest Services, Bureau of Land Management, Idaho Department of Lands, Robie Creek Fire Department, Clear Creek Fire Department and Wilderness Ranch Fire Department — are working on the fire, Olson said.

The agencies combined to dispatch two heavy air tankers, two single-engine air tankers, six fire engines, three hand crews and three helicopters. Two additional hand crews were requested, but Olson said he wasn’t sure when they would arrive.

Copyright 2012 - The Idaho Statesman

McClatchy-Tribune News Service