Woman who bragged on Facebook about starting a fire faces prison sentence

Sunnyside Turnoff Fire
A burnout on the Sunnyside Turnoff Fire in 2013. InciWeb photo.

It turns out that bragging on social media about starting a wildfire can lead to a prison sentence.

On July 22, 2013, two days after throwing a firecracker into vegetation to start a fire so her firefighter friends would not be “bored”, Sadie Renee Johnson, 23, wrote on her Facebook page: “Like my fire?”
Sadie Johnson
It grew to become the 51,480-acre Sunnyside Turnoff Fire on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in Oregon, the 15th largest fire in the United States in 2013.

Ms. Johnson pleaded guilty on May 19 to the crime of setting brush and timber on fire.

The Department of Justice said she admitted that she was riding as passenger in a car on Route 3 near Sunnyside Drive when she used a lighter to light a small firework, then tossed it out the passenger window into the brush along the side of the road.

The National Interagency Fire Center reported that the estimated costs of suppressing the fire was $4 million. Prosecutors said the approximate cost for the Bureau of Indian Affairs was $7,901,973. According to the law, Ms. Johnson is required to pay full restitution.

Ms. Johnson is being held at the Columbia County Jail, awaiting sentencing scheduled for September 3. Prosecutors said Johnson faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a fine of $250,000, and three years of supervised release.