MI: Houghton Lake Man Has Preliminary Hearing on Wildland Arson Charges
A Houghton Lake man faced a preliminary hearing Thursday, Sept. 8, on felony charges that he allegedly intentionally set multiple wildland fires in Roscommon County on three separate dates. The 71-year old will be arraigned Sept. 26 in 83rd District Court in Roscommon.
Each felony charges carry a possible fine of up to $10,000 and up to 10 years imprisonment on each charge. The costs of the suppression of the fires could also be accessed by a court as well.
The charges stem from an investigation initiated by Department of Natural Resources forest fire officers when they noted a trend in certain areas of unexplained, suspicious fires. The fire officers collaborated with DNR conservation officers on the investigation over the last several years by sharing information and collecting evidence. Detectives from the DNR’s Special Investigation Unit and conservation officers conducted interviews and followed up on many leads.
The man is charged with setting seven fires since approximately 2000 in Roscommon County that DNR fire crews were able to contain, only destroying 1.5 acres of state forestland.
“Collaboration between divisions, in these times of limited manpower and resources, is vital to the successful conclusion of complicated cases,” said DNR Law Enforcement Division Chief Gary Hagler.
“Arson, whether to residential property or wooded land, has extreme costs to the people of this state,” said Scott Heather, DNR state wildfire supervisor in the DNR Forest Management Division. “Costs in timber and habitat damage and suppressing the fires, along with the potential for the public or firefighters to be injured are reasons to fully investigate and prosecute these offenses.
“Also intentionally set fires tie up personnel and equipment that then becomes unavailable for other wildland fires,” Heather added.
Persons with information of any natural resources violations can call the Report All Poaching hotline at 800-292-7800. Arson in Michigan can be reported to the Arson Tip Line at 800-44-ARSON. Tipsters may be eligible for rewards if an arrest or conviction occurs.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state's natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.