Montana man arrested for causing fire near Yellowstone | Montana News


HELENA, Mont. (AP) – A Montana man was arrested Wednesday for starting a fire near Yellowstone National Park that burned 46 square miles (120 square kilometers) and burned more than two dozen homes and other structures.

John Lightburn, 55, of Bridger, has been charged with negligent arson and criminal mischief for allegedly starting the fire while attempting to repair his motorcycle on US Forest Service grounds south of Red Lodge , Montana, along the border with Wyoming, according to an affidavit from Carbon County District Attorney Alex Nixon.

Lightburn told a retired investigator near the scene of the June 13 fire that he was riding an all-terrain motorcycle on a trail in the Robertson Draw area that had been closed to motor vehicles, according to the affidavit .

Conditions that day were unusually hot and dry for the season, which contributed to the fire risk.

Lightburn told a Forest Service law enforcement officer who responded to the scene of the fire that his all-terrain motorcycle appeared to be flooded. While attempting to repair the motorcycle, Lightburn said he spilled gasoline, telling the officer there was “gasoline everywhere”.

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The man then told the policeman that he had checked the spark plug, causing a spark that ignited the gasoline and the vegetation around it. The officer then found an abandoned motorcycle that appeared to be burnt at the scene.

Lightburn was taken to the Gallatin County Detention Center on Wednesday, where he was being held on $ 7,500 bond. He could not be reached for comment. We didn’t know if he had a lawyer.

The blaze was just over 50% contained on Wednesday, according to firefighters, and burned seasonal cabins, homes and other structures. Efforts to contain it have cost $ 5 million to date, officials said.

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