Posted: May 16, 2013 10:42 AM by MTN News
Updated: May 16, 2013 4:36 PM
HELENA - An 18-year-old man accused of lighting several fires in the Helena area is scheduled to appear in court today.
Fredrick J. Maw is facing arson charges. He's accused of starting five fires on Wednesday just 20 miles northeast of Helena near York.
Maw is also facing felony arson charges in connection with the Priest Pass Fire last Friday and the Spokane Hills Fire on Tuesday, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said.
With the suspect behind bars, fire crews are busy trying to get a handle on the five fires that were ignited yesterday. More than 150 personnel, 2 helicopters and several engines are working on the incident.
Kathy Bushnell, spokeswoman for the Helena National Forest, provided this update on the fires on Thursday morning:
• Fire #1: Hunters Gulch at 100+ acres and actively burning with isolated torching
• Fire #2: Seats Gulch at about 300 acres and actively burning in the timber with some tree torching, short crown runs and spotting occurred yesterday.
• Fire #3: [Unnamed] one acre fire; contained and controlled.
• Fire #4: Kelly Gulch includes five small fires with a total acreage of 5 acres. The fires are lined and nearly contained.
• Fire #5: Cottontail Fire: about 2 acres, mopping up
The area received some rain overnight, which may help crews as they continue suppression efforts.
Crews will work to contain and mop-up the smaller fires today and continue direct attack where it's safe on the two larger fires within the complex.
Firefighters will have helicopters assisting with water-bucket drops again today.
No structures are threatened at this time, and no injuries have been reported.
Nelson Road remains closed with an exception for residents.
Smoke will remain visible for the next several days.