Fire (Photo by Adrian Pelletier via Pixnio | Creative Commons).
The three men charged with felony arson in relation to the Gibson Flats fire, which burned down more than a dozen homes and other structures, switched their pleas to guilty at a court appearance on Tuesday.
The fire devastated the community south of Great Falls last December, with wind driven flames ripping through the dry prairie. Charging documents said Brandon Cordell Bennett, Jr., Jevin James McLean and Galvinn Coates Munson, had set off fireworks on Dec. 1 that ignited two grass fires, as reported by the Great Falls Tribune.
The three men changed their initial pleas to guilty on Tuesday, according to reporting from KRTV, with sentencing being delayed for the court to speak with victims to determine restitution and damages.
The Gibson Flats fire sparked late in the season in part due to dry conditions and warmer-than-usual temperatures.
Gibson Flats wasn’t the only fire in central Montana to see late season fires last year, with flames ripping through Denton in the same week.
This summer has seen record temperature highs in Montana, with central Montana reporting record highs into September.
For Helena, since July 12th, this is the warmest on record for high temperature during this period, with an average afternoon temperature of 92.5 degrees. This breaks the old record of 91.7 set in 2003. Also, Helena has now had 52 days of 90 degrees or warmer. Also a record #mtwx
— NWS Great Falls (@NWSGreatFalls) September 6, 2022
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