Three males charged with arson for fire that destroyed 13 homes in Montana

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Suspects fire Gibson Flats, MT
L to R: Brandon Cordell Bennett Jr., Jevin James Mclean, Galvinn Coates Munson. Photo: Cascade County Detention Center.

Three teens have been charged with arson for starting two fires last week, one of which destroyed 13 homes, 16 outbuildings, and numerous vehicles in Gibson Flats just south of Great Falls, Montana.

Those charged were Brandon Cordell Bennett, Jr. 18; Jevin James Mclean, 19; and Galvinn Coates Munson, 19; all of Great Falls.

Munson was also charged with 15 counts of criminal endangerment. Bennett received an additional charge of tampering with evidence for reportedly “wiping” his phone.

The two fires, which burned about 120 acres, started at around 2:40 a.m. December 1 pushed by strong winds gusting at more than 50 mph.

“One of the defendants disclosed that all three of them were driving around the area the night this occurred smoking marijuana and shooting fireworks at each other inside the vehicle,” Cascade County Sheriff Jesse Slaughter said in a news conference.

The Sheriff said the fact that no one was killed was a “complete miracle.”

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

3 thoughts on “Three males charged with arson for fire that destroyed 13 homes in Montana”

  1. Boneheads, oh my. And the devastation felt by those who lost their homes, outbuildings and vehicles. I hope they receive more than a slap aside the head, so to speak.

  2. Not one mention of the importance of keeping flammable vegetation cleared (apparently short, dry grass for the most part… easy and fast to clear). ANY fire prevention can thwart IDIOTS like this.

  3. Smoking Marijuana and shooting fireworks at each other inside a vehicle”: not some of our best and brightest here in Montana. They’re lucky they didn’t qualify for a 2021 Darwin Award. Any it will only get better: Recreational Pot becomes legal in Montana on 1/1/22.


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