Teenager Accused of Arson in Helena Wildfires

Lewis and Clark County authorities have arrested 18-year-old Fredrick J. Maw on suspicion of arson after investigating a series of wildfires in Helena over the past week.  Maw is suspected of setting a serious of fires on Wednesday near York, a 55-acre fire in the Spokane Hills, and another fire last week in Priest Pass which is West of Helena.  Officials say nine fires of suspicious origin were discovered in the Helena National Forest.  Some of the fires were stamped out or may have burned together to form what is being called a five-fire complex.

Helena National Forest supervisor Kevin Riordan reported that three of the smaller blazes are at, or near containment.  A 100-acre fire called Hunter Gulch is 40% contained and still actively burning.  At this time, no injuries have been reported, no structures are threatening, and no evacuations have been ordered in Helena.

Approximately 160 people have been assigned to the fire.  This includes: state, county and volunteer fire resources.  There are also two Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation helicopters assisting in the fire suppression efforts.

Maw was detained at 3:50 p.m. on Wednesday and arrested two hours later for felony arson.  Sheriff Leo Dutton says he expects Fredrick Maw to make his initial appearance in Justice Court this afternoon.  Officials are continuing their investigation into all of the fires.

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