Investigators: Smith Mountain Fire Likely Arson
Fire investigators say the Smith Mountain Fire in northern Albany County was ignited intentionally.
According to a press release from the Bureau of Land Management, an arson K-9 indicated the presence of flammable liquid in multiple areas where investigators also found unusual burn patterns.
Albany County Fire Warden Cyrus Rahman leads the ongoing investigation.
Bureau of Land Management spokesman Brad Purdy says the fire was first reported Sunday, Sept. 27 at 4:15 p.m.
“That fire grew to about 630 acres,” says Purdy. “It looks like the fire started north of a BLM prescribed burn.”
Firefighters first thought the prescribed burn got out of control and caused the Smith Mountain Fire. However, officers called in fire investigators after becoming suspicious of certain unspecified evidence.
“After a pretty long investigation, it looks like there’s suspected arson as part of that fire, so that’s currently being investigated,” says Purdy.
“Acts of arson are dangerous and undermine the community’s trust,” says Rahman. “This fire posed a threat to homes, to hunters, and to firefighters.”
It took over 60 hand-crew firefighters two weeks of building lines around the fire in steep mountain terrain before control was finally declared Sunday, Oct. 11.
Firefighters from six Albany County departments, Carbon County, Wyoming State Forestry, the U.S. Forest Service and the BLM responded to contain the blaze and protect structures.
“I hope that a better understanding of this event helps our community address these issues,” says Rahman.