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For the week of October 11 through 17, 2000

Four more alleged arson cases in Timmerman Hills

"Had the recent fires been set earlier this summer, before moisture and cooler temperatures moved in this fall, they may have grown out of control."

Monte White, BLM law enforcement officer

Express Staff Writer

Four allegedly arson-caused fires sprung up in the Timmerman Hills on Thursday, consuming approximately seven acres of grass and sagebrush before they were contained later that day.

The BLM, Sawtooth National Forest and Wood River Fire and Rescue responded to the blazes with two helicopters, an airplane and multiple engines, according to a BLM press release.

The four fires were set within two minutes of each other inside of an eight-mile radius, near Picabo Desert Road, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) law enforcement officer Monte White said in a telephone interview Monday. White is heading up investigation efforts in conjunction with the Blaine County Sheriff..

White said an apparent incendiary device was found at the scene of the first fire, which burned just off of Picabo Desert Road.

The device "appears to be, probably, a cigarette wrapped into matches," he said.

"I collected it at the scene, and I’ll have to have a lab look at it," White said. "It was burned so bad. I only suspect that is what it is. I’m not sure."

No devices were found at the sites of the three other fires, he said.

White said someone called the BLM’s dispatch center and reported that several "kids" were seen at each fire site before the fires started. According to White, the caller reported that the kids were driving a red Toyota sedan. It’s a lead White hasn’t investigated thoroughly yet, he said.

The latest round of Timmerman area fires continues a trend that began in August. Andy Payne, fire manager for the BLM’s Shoshone District, said about five fires occurred north of Magic Reservoir in August. He said incendiary devices were found at two of those, and the BLM is continuing to investigate them as arson cases. Another arson-suspected fire burned about 900 acres near Timmerman junction on Aug. 22.

White said all the arson-suspected fires may be related.

"We’re always suspicious of that, but we’re not sure they are," he said.

Had the recent fires been set earlier this summer, before moisture and cooler temperatures moved in this fall, they may have grown out of control, he said.

"They would have been catastrophic fires," White said. "They would have been very large."

White said catching the arsonists could prove difficult.

"We’ve got to have somebody see the right things at the right times," he said, "and everything will fall together. We’ll have to get lucky, though."


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