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For the week of Apr. 19 through Apr. 25, 2000

Snowmobile tracks not linked to yurt fire

"We’ve really narrowed the time span down now."

Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling, commenting on the Boulder yurts arson case

Express Staff Writer

Two snowmobile tracks near the Boulder yurts have been ruled unconnected to a suspected arson act that occurred there April 2.

Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling said in an interview Monday that sheriff’s deputies had interviewed two snowmobilers who had signed in at the Boulder City trailhead the afternoon of the blaze.

Femling said the two took responsibility for the tracks, but, based on their explanations and demeanor during the interview, are not viewed as suspects.

Also, he said, investigators found no footprints leading from the snowmobile tracks to the yurts.

The two Boulder yurts, worth about $20,000, were burned to the ground. Femling said the snowmobilers told deputies they were in the area about 4 p.m. The fire was reported about 4:30 p.m.

"We’ve really narrowed the time span down now," Femling said.

However, police appear to have made little progress in investigating the case.

Femling said six officers further searched the area following a significant amount of snowmelt on Thursday. He did not elaborate on what they found.

"I think they’re doing as good a job as anybody can do," said Ketchum Ranger District law enforcement officer Joe Griffin about the investigation. "But we don’t have a lot to go on given what’s left after the fire."

A $4,500 reward for information helpful to the investigation has been put up by the U.S. Forest Service, the Idaho State Snowmobile Association and the local Nordic and Backcountry Skiers Alliance.

Femling said "a number of people" have called to offer additional money to the reward pool.

Griffin said investigators must often depend on informant information to solve backcountry crimes, which are rarely witnessed.

"When the [reward] stakes are high enough, quite often somebody comes forward that has knowledge," he said.


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