The fire was contained to less than one acre, but caused an estimated $5,000 in damage
(Gillette, Wyo.) Yesterday evening, Aug. 10, the Gillette Police Department and the Campbell County Fire Department responded to the Youth Emergency Services House on North Gurley Avenue for the report of a grass fire burning dangerously close to the establishment.
According to Lieutenant Charles Deaton with the GPD, a 17-year-old male was found to be responsible for the blaze. It is not clear if the youth is a current resident of the Y.E.S. House.
“The male stated that he had been playing with a lighter in a field south of the Y.E.S. House, when a small area of grass caught on fire,” Deaton said. “He thought he had stomped the fire out.”
The fire had not been extinguished entirely and the youth was later alerted by the smell of smoke. Deaton stated that the youth soon observed that the area was once again on fire and hurried to alert Y.E.S. House staff, who immediately called emergency responders.
In a press release from Fire Chief William Shank with the CCFD, it was stated that arriving fire fighters found the fire “burning in grass and trees along a shelter belt”, less than 100 meters from the Y.E.S. House. The fire was quickly contained and extinguished, affecting a relatively small area less than one acre in size.
Deaton stated that the group of trees within the shelter belt, estimated to be around 50 in number, that were consumed by the fire belonged to the City of Gillette and were irrigated, though it is unclear if the grass is also considered city property. The fire resulted in the destruction of the city irrigation lines running through the shelter belt, causing more than $5,000 in damage.
The 17-year-old male was arrested by GPD officers and, given the significant amount of damage inflicted on city property, the male will be facing felony third degree arson charges.