A Ronan man is in the Lake County Detention Center on $1 million bond after an intensive investigation into three arson-caused fires led to his arrest.

Lake County Sheriff Don Bell provided details to KGVO News.

“A months long investigation into the Boulder 2700 arson-caused fire, which started August 31, 2021 has resulted in the Lake County Sheriff's Office identifying a suspect,” began Sheriff Bell. “36-year-old Craig Allen McRae of Ronan is being charged by the Lake County Attorney's Office for three counts of arson for the Boulder 2700 fire and two other fires in the Polson area, the Boulder 2800 fire and the Jetty Hill fire. The Boulder 2800 and the Jetty fires were started in the month prior to the boulder 2700 fire and caused forest land damage but did not burn any structures.”

Bell said the fire that caused the most damage was the Boulder 2700 fire.

“The Boulder 2700 fire resulted in the emergency evacuation of hundreds of families and burned down more than a dozen homes and other outbuildings, thousands of acres of forest land and has also created ongoing hazardous conditions on Highway 35 due to destabilizing the vegetation and causing frequent rocks to fall onto the road.”

Bell praised his detectives for their hard work in solving a difficult case.

“Lake County detectives pursued many leads in this investigation from the point when it was identified an arson caused fire,” he said. “This exhaustive investigation led to identification of McCrea as the arsonist in conjunction with evidence discovered by CSKT tribal fire investigators. The two previous fires were also identified as being started by McCrea.”

McCrea is being officially charged with three counts of felony arson.

The information in this article was obtained from sources that are publicly viewable. 

Photos: 2021 Crooked Creek Fire in Pryor Mountains, Montana

"Wildland fire on public lands managed by the Custer Gallatin National Forest, 25 miles east of Bridger, Mont., in the Pryor Mountains near the southern border of the Crow Indian Reservation." (Photos by Colby K. Neal/BLM) - Bureau of Land Management Montana and Dakotas

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