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Man Who Caused Wildfire Pleads Guilty In Court

Prince William Forest Park

National Park News

The investigation into the cause of the B-Loop Fire at Prince William Forest Park ended on January 18th when the primary suspect pled guilty in federal district court. The fire, which started on March 27, 2006, near Oak Ridge Campground, burned 318 acres and destroyed one structure. The fire was suppressed by 70 firefighters at a cost of $175,000. Special agent Chris Smith of the Investigative Services Branch in WASO’s Division of Law Enforcement, Security and Emergency Services, working out of Shenandoah, headed a joint investigation by Prince William rangers and personnel from the Virginia Department of Forestry. A suspect was identified and eventually brought to court. Through a plea agreement, he pled guilty to discarding a smoldering item (a misdemeanor) and was sentenced to a year’s probation. He also agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $7,977.55 for the replacement of the structure lost in the blaze. Suspicious wildland fires can often be difficult to investigate with traditional law enforcement techniques.  By requesting a wildland fire cause and origin investigator from the Investigative Services Branch and through diligence and hard work, this investigation was brought to a successful conclusion.



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