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Woman sparks 51,000 acre wildfire to help bored firefighters

By Kesavan Unnikrishnan     Aug 23, 2014 in Environment
An Oregon women admitted tossing a lit firework out of a car last summer because her firefighter friends were bored and needed some work.
Sadie Renee Johnson, 23, used a lighter to ignite a firework and then tossed it out the passenger window of her car into roadside vegetation in Warm Springs, Oregon at around 9:15 a.m. on July 20, 2013.
Although the blaze was discovered within 15 minutes, it could not be controlled immediately. Eventually, the fire, named as the Sunnyside Turnoff wildfire, spread to about 80 square miles — 51,000 acres — costing nearly $8 million to fight and took two months to bring under complete control. The fire destroyed no structures but forced evacuations of hundreds of homes and closed a resort and tribal Highway 3 for many days.
Two days later Johnson posted on her Facebook page asking her friends "like my fire?" She was arrested within a week.
Johnson, who is currently under Federal custody, entered a guilty plea before U.S. District Judge in May in Portland and is due to be sentenced on September 3. She faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine as per Federal law. She may be required to pay full restitution of $7.9 million to the Bureau of Indian Affairs In addition to jail time and the fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Gabriel said,
The case is given Top priority and intentionally starting a wildfire has severe consequences as Ms. Johnson learned.
Johnson told investigators she set the fire because her firefighter friends were bored and needed two day's work and did not expect the fire to grow so quickly and affect a large land area.
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