More than 40 suspected arson fires. That over half of them were started in the last year of the spree suggests that this was only going to get worse.

The U.S. Forest Service released information Thursday on the sentence handed down to a Superior, Montana, man who admitted to setting fires on Forest Service lands. Evidence quickly mounting against him helped turn the tide that led to the guilty plea.

From 2013 - 2021, the U.S. Forest Service and federal government agencies allege that Jeremy Johannes Hennick was responsible for more than 40 suspected arson fires set on state and federal land in Mineral County. In 2021 alone, 22 of those fires were investigated.

Mr. Hennick became a suspect after a vehicle he drove was spotted in the area of some of the fires. The allegations include one spree that had a pogo stick-like pattern that caused lots of concerns for the potential additional damage and danger it could have caused.

That incident happened near the junction of Mullan Road East and Riverbend Road in Mineral County. There, emergency personnel responded to a main fire and three additional burn areas short distances apart. Investigators concluded each burned area was a separate fire, all human-caused using homemade devices, such as paper stuffed in small packages, soaked with an accelerant, then lit.

In the fall of 2022, Hennick admitted that he had been setting fires for a number of years. He mainly did so  by lighting trash on fire and throwing it out the window of his vehicle.

Fortunately, in spite of 40-plus fires, overall damage was minimal. For that, we can thank  the diligence and resourcefulness of firefighters who quickly responded to the flames. And maybe that influenced the judge's sentencing decision

U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christen sentenced Mr. Hennick to eight months imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $3,323 in restitution.

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