Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Man accused of torching own home

East Fork resident charged with first-degree arson


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Firefighters do mop-up work Saturday evening following a house fire at 67 East Fork Road north of Hailey. Damage was mainly confined to the interior, but the Ketchum Fire Department estimated damage at $400,000. Photo by David N. Seelig

A 43-year-old Blaine County man has been charged with first-degree arson for allegedly lighting his own house on fire Saturday evening.

East Fork resident Patrick S. Busby was formally charged with the crime, a felony, at an initial court appearance Monday afternoon in Blaine County Magistrate Court. Busby also was charged with the misdemeanor crime of "resisting and obstructing officers" for allegedly not complying with the commands of police while the fire was being investigated.

Busby remained incarcerated Tuesday in the Blaine County jail on $100,000 bond.

A probable cause affidavit, filed by sheriff's Lt. Curtis Miller, alleges that Busby intentionally lit the house on fire in two different locations—using gasoline in 5-gallon plastic containers—following an argument with his wife. Miller wrote that Busby's wife had left the home following the argument and before the fire was started.

Busby was the only one in the home when the fire started, according to Miller's report. Busby was transported by Ketchum Fire Department ambulance to St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center for treatment of minor cuts and burns. After treatment, Busby was taken to jail.

Police became involved in the incident at 67 East Fork Road, north of Hailey, after being notified at 7:47 p.m. of a domestic disturbance in which a man was threatening to light his house on fire. A second call, at 7:55 p.m. to the Ketchum Fire Department, reported that the house was ablaze.

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"First-arriving firefighters found a two-story house with flames visible in the living room area with heavy dark smoke issuing from the eaves of the roof, kitchen window and other portions of the building," the Ketchum Fire Department reported in a news release issued Monday.

The news release further reported that the fire was brought under control at 9:02 p.m. with assistance from Sun Valley Fire Department and Wood River Fire & Rescue.

Damage was mainly confined to the interior of the home. Ketchum Fire Department estimated damage at $400,000.

Miller wrote that he was assisted in the investigation by Wood River Fire & Rescue Chief Bart Lassman, Ketchum Fire Department Chief Mike Elle and Ketchum Assistant Chief Robbie Englehart.

Miller reported that investigators determined two points of origin for the fire, one in the living room and a second in a lower-level weight room. At both locations, Miller wrote, melted red plastic blobs were found, which investigators identified as the remains of 5-gallon gasoline containers.

According to Miller's report, Busby escaped from the home by breaking and crawling through a kitchen window.

Blaine County court records state that Busby is a construction contractor. Miller wrote in his report that Busby built the home himself 13 years ago.

Busby is represented by Hailey attorney Keith Roark. Court records state that he was hired by Busby's wife.

Magistrate Court Judge R. Ted Israel issued a no-contact order against Busby regarding his wife after he was informed by Roark that "Mrs. Busby has concerns for her safety as well as the defendant's."

A preliminary hearing was scheduled for 9 a.m. on May 18.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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