Causing Wildfires Carries Steep Penalty

Thursday, March 20th 2014, 7:25 pm
By: News 9

Most of the time firefighters are unable to track who or what started a wildfire, but when reports come in with a lead, fire crews investigate.

"There is sometimes an accident, someone working on a fence with a chainsaw, but most of them are people-generated," said OKC Fire Chief Marc Woodard.

Woodard, says most, but means nearly all.

"I'd say 99.9%," said Woodard.

The fires that scorched almost 200 acres near Tinker Air Force Base on Tuesday are believed to be in that 99 percentile. So now with the help of some reports, investigators are still looking for a white Chevy pickup truck that was seen in the area at the time of the fires.

3/18/2014 Related Story: Firefighters Extinguish Several Wildfires In SE OKC

Reports say individuals saw the driver throw something out the window. If it was on purpose, Woodard and fire crews won't be lenient.

"We don't react too kindly because it's putting people and firefighters in jeopardy," said Woodard.

The investigators may not be too lenient either. In Oklahoma, a person found guilty of arson could face a $25,000 fine and or 35 years in prison, something that could be reached with examples like this fire where property and lives were threatened.

"You think, ‘How can someone do this?' That's the world we live in unfortunately," said Woodard.

If injures or death occur as a result of an arson fire or property was damaged that could be grounds for legal action. And the crimes would increase accordingly.