Firefighter Who Started Forest Fire Gets Probation

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – A 26-year-old firefighter from Dillon who started a fire in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest and later worked on the Forest Service crew that extinguished the blaze has been sentenced to two years probation and must pay $1,111 in restitution.

The Independent Record in Helena reports that Christopher Clark was sentenced in federal court in Missoula on Thursday. He previously pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of damage to government property.

Prosecutors say Clark and two other men were on Black Mountain on Oct. 17, 2009, and tried to start fires in trees killed by pine beetles. They were unsuccessful, but the next day Clark and one of the men returned to the forest and lit trees on fire in the Birch Creek area.

The fire grew to about one-tenth of an acre, and Clark was later involved in the suppression effort.

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