Volunteer allegedly starts destructive Idaho wildfire
Other blazes shroud central portion of state in smoke
BOISE – Authorities have arrested an 18-year-old volunteer firefighter suspected of starting a wildfire that was threatening up to 100 homes in a subdivision northeast of Boise.
The blaze started late Monday afternoon and has destroyed one house. It prompted the evacuation of about a dozen homes Monday night, forest spokesman David Olson said. Additional homes received evacuation orders Tuesday.
The Boise County Sheriff’s Office identified the suspect Tuesday as Nathanial Fay Bartholomew, who faces a felony arson charge alleging he set the Karney fire that has burned about 300 acres in the Robie Creek area of the Boise National Forest.
Bartholomew lives in the area and was arrested Monday night while actively battling the blaze, sheriff officials said. Boise County Chief Deputy Dale Rogers said it appears the motive for starting the fire was to get the attention of his father, who is a firefighter.
Fire officials said they had the fire 15 percent contained, but they lost all containment as it grew Tuesday.
Meanwhile, wildfires continued to burn across the state, shrouding much of the central portion of Idaho in a thin veil of smoke.
Outside of New Meadows, crews continued to battle the Wesley fire, ignited by lightning nine days ago. The fire, which was visible from U.S. Highways 95 and 55, had so far burned more than 15 square miles in steep and remote forest, and was just 8 percent contained Tuesday.
In eastern Idaho, the Mustang Complex of fires had burned more than 510 square miles, mostly in rugged, hard-to-reach backcountry. The collection of fires was 20 percent contained and was being fought by more than 800 people.
Fire officials said motorists along U.S. Highway 93 should expect thick smoke between North Fork and south of Gibbonsville and should drive with headlights on and at reduced speeds. Many with homes along the highway corridor have been allowed to return but were still being urged to evacuate quickly if fire and weather conditions change.