Idaho: former firefighter convicted of arson

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A firefighter from southwestern Idaho faces up to 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines. From the Idaho Statesman:

A former volunteer Parma firefighter will be sentenced April 30 in federal court for setting a series of wildfires in the summer of 2007 that burned more than 1,000 acres.


A federal jury on Friday found Clyde Dewayne Holmes guilty on six counts of arson on federal lands. Each charge is punishable by up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines. The jury deliberated for about an hour following a four-day jury trial.

Federal prosecutors say they still don’t know why Holmes set the fires. Money does not appear to be a motive since Holmes was a volunteer firefighter who didn’t get paid – even though he worked to extinguish several of the fires he set, assistant U.S. Attorney Monte Stiles said.

“He has never admitted to doing it; he never got any money … the reason remains unclear,” Stiles said.

Holmes is accused of setting several wildfires that burned more than 1,000 acres of federal land northeast of Parma.

Federal prosecutors say Holmes set fires that collectively burned 1,162 acres in the summer of 2007: July 10, 106 acres; July 16, 222 acres; July 23, 512 acres; July 25, 156 acres; Aug. 2, 47 acres; Aug. 10, 52 acres; Aug. 14, 67 acres.

Stiles said Holmes called in several of those fires and worked to put them out. A Bureau of Land Management agent spotted Holmes on Aug. 14 driving away from a fire that had just started, federal officials said.

Investigators also accumulated evidence at other fire scenes, including tire tracks and boot prints, that were linked to Holmes, Stiles said.

Several people testified as alibi witnesses on Holmes’ behalf during the jury trial – saying they knew he was somewhere else at the time the fires were ignited.

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