Big Sky Roundup

Superior man pleads not guilty to five federal fire start charges

By: - July 20, 2022 5:35 pm

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A Superior man pleaded not guilty this month to five federal charges of setting fires in the Lolo National Forest last summer, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Jeremy J. Hennick, 51, appeared in U.S. District Court in Missoula on July 8. If convicted of the most serious crime, he faces a maximum of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release, the news release said.

Court documents allege Hennick “willfully and without authority” set fire to timber, underbrush, grass and other inflammable material in the Thompson Creek area of the Lolo National Forest on June 27, 2021. Hennick repeated his actions at the Riverbend Road area in Mineral County on August 1 last summer, eliciting four of the charges, according to court documents.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto presided in the case investigated by the U.S. Forest Service.

Hennick remains in custody pending further proceedings.

According to the National Park Service, nearly 85 percent of wildland fires in the U.S. are caused by humans whether through negligence, equipment use or intentional arson.

Nearly 1 million acres burned in Montana last summer, and at press time, the state’s fire dashboard had tracked 717 unique fires in Montana so far this year.

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Emily Tschetter
Emily Tschetter

Emily Tschetter is a junior studying journalism and political science at the University of Montana. She was born and raised in Billings and grew up surrounded with music between going to concerts and playing cello. She worked at the Montana Kaimin, University of Montana's independent student newspaper, as a news reporter last school year and will start as the news editor in the fall. In her free time Emily loves building up her vinyl collection, being overly critical of movies, going to cheap diners with friends and enjoying music whenever she can.