Woman Faces Arson Charges for Fires Started at Seeley Lake

By Beacon Staff

SEELEY LAKE (AP) – Bail was set at $100,000 for a summer resident accused of starting two small fires in this wildfire-beseiged resort town.

Elizabeth Anna Sleath, 58, was charged with felony attempted arson and ordered held on $100,000 bail in Missoula County Justice Court on Tuesday.

Sleath is accused of starting two fires on property belonging to Ron and Jean Flink, who own a resort hotel, the Montana Pines Hideaway. Both fires were extinguished by the Flinks and area firefighters before they could burn out of control.

In a court affidavit, Missoula Deputy County Attorney Betty Wing reported Sleath’s husband, Charles Sleath, saying his wife had breast cancer and needed medication for depression. She also allegedly engaged in binge drinking and had been twice arrested for DUI.

Jean Flink said Sleath was acting strangely on Monday and appeared to be drinking alcohol. Flink described Sleath as “obsessed” with the progression of the Jocko Lakes fire burning west of the town and said that Sleath would repeatedly drive down to the lake to check on the fire’s condition.

Sleath was arrested shortly after firefighters put out the second small blaze. Missoula County Sheriff’s Detective Dave Brenner said Sleath told him she “didn’t remember starting any fires and had no reason to start fires.” She also asked to speak with a therapist and wanted to be transferred to the Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs.

Sleath is being held in the Missoula County jail and has asked for a public defender.

No connection is known or suspected between Sleath and the Jocko Lakes fire, authorities said.

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