Burley Man Ordered to Pay Over $79,000 in Restitution for Causing Five Fires on BLM Land
POCATELLO – Scott Halford, 50, of Burley, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for causing a fire, other than a campfire or the industrial flaring of gas, to be ignited by any source, Acting U.S. Attorney Rafael M. Gonzalez, Jr. announced today. U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy W. Dale ordered Halford to serve six months of home confinement, five years of probation, and pay $79,800.68 in restitution.
According to court records, Halford started five fires in the Milner Recreation Area on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land west of Burley. The fires burned hundreds of acres of grass and brush. Investigation into the fires determined Halford was in the vicinity of all five fires based on surveillance photographs and witness statements. Halford was photographed driving towards or away from the origin area of two fires within minutes of the fires being reported. Halford admitted in court that he caused the fires.
“This is a reminder that the public has a major role to play in fire safety,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Gonzalez. “Everyone must remain vigilant, especially during our extended fire season. We are surrounded by public lands, many acres of which are arid. Cheatgrass is everywhere. It is a fuel that creates dangerous fire conditions, especially in summer. Even lawfully minded citizens need to be careful of setting accidental fires,” he added before crediting the cooperative efforts of the BLM and the Cassia County Sheriff's Office, which led to charges.
Over the last three years, a total of more than 1,900 human-caused wildfires have burned more than 500,000 acres in Idaho according to National Interagency Fire Center statistics. So far in 2021, more than 300 human-caused wildfires have burned more than 8,800 acres of land in the state.
Federal and state land management agencies in Idaho are urging the public to take all precautions to prevent human-caused wildfires, and property owners to take steps to reduce the risk of wildfire to their homes and land, in the face of extreme statewide conditions outlined by the National Interagency Fire Center.