Posted: Oct 25, 2012 6:57 PM by Judy Slate
A Billings man pleaded not guilty to starting a wildfire west of Bozeman.
Kyler Schmitz is charged with eight counts of arson. Prosecutors say he started the Bear Trap 2 Fire in late June.
According to charging documents, Schmitz and several friends were camping at the Bear Trap Campground in the Lower Madison Recreation Area. On the morning of June 25, Schmitz reportedly lit a firework that exploded several feet from the ground. According to witnesses, the firework sparked several fires in nearby tall grasses. The group tried to put out the fires with water and dirt, but the blaze quickly grew out of control. They fled and called 911.
The fire grew quickly and eventually burned more that 15,000 acres, including a home.
The court documents say fighting the blaze cost more than $1.2 million.
The court documents also show that Schmitz admitted to starting the fire and says he acted alone. Schmitz also stated that he wanted to help pay back the people who lost property in the blaze.