News & Features

‘Vigilant Citizen’ Leads to Arrest of Suspected Arsonist in Pablo

Julian Draper, 33, allegedly started a fire in trees north of former Plum Creek sawmill; fire has been suppressed

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office says an “observant and vigilant citizen” called 911 to report a suspicious person near the site of a small wildland fire Monday evening in Pablo, leading to the arrest of a 33-year-old man who stands accused of starting the blaze.

Julian Draper, of Pablo, has been charged with arson after he was arrested by a sheriff’s deputy not far from the fire on private land near the long-shuttered Plum Creek sawmill off Light Road. The fire was reported around 5 p.m. and was quickly suppressed. The Ronan Fire Department, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe Division of Fire and workers from a nearby job site all assisted in controlling the blaze. CSKT Fire Information Officer C.T. Camel said the fire burned less than a half acre.

Camel also said that Draper does not appear to have any connection to a pair of suspected arson fires set earlier this summer. The Sloan’s fires No. 1 and No. 2 were reported on Thursday, Aug. 13 just off Little Bitterroot Road west of Ronan. A reward of up to $10,000 has been offered for information on those fires. Tips can be reported anonymously to (800) 472-7766 or at wetip.com.

andy@flatheadbeacon.com