Three Washington State University students were charged Monday with gross misdemeanors for allegedly starting an illegal campfire that sparked the Snake River Fire that burned roughly 11,000 acres of land this past summer.
Blake Rogers, 22, Isaiah Weber, 23, and Jonathan Whitley, 22, all of Pullman, were each charged with second-degree reckless burning by Garfield County Prosecutor Matt Newberg. The charge is punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine plus restitution, fees and assessments.
The three are scheduled for first appearances at 9 a.m. April 13 in the Garfield County District Court in Pomeroy.
The Daily News reported last year that the three men admitted they had spent the night and to building a small campfire where the fire reportedly started in Wawawai Canyon the following day, Aug. 2.
The men were reported to have voluntarily met with the Whitman County Sheriff’s Office, which worked with the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, and prosecutors from both counties to determine appropriate charges.
About 5,000 acres were burned in Whitman County and about 5,000 were burned in Garfield County, about 10 miles northeast of Pomeroy.
More than 300 firefighters fought the flames on the ground while another six fixed-wing air tankers and five helicopters fought from the air with water and fire retardant. Four firefighters were taken to local hospitals for heat-related injuries, though no one died or was seriously injured.
The Garfield County Prosecutor’s office believes it has contacted most of the affected property owners and tenants, but those who have been affected by the fire and have not been contacted already should call (509) 843-3082.
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