Firefighter who started Karney Fire gets six-month rider

May 17, 2013 

— A Boise County firefighter who pleaded guilty to intentionally starting a wildfire last September will undergo a six-month evaluation that could avert a longer prison sentence.

Judge Patrick Owen sentenced Nathaniel Bartholomew, 19, to 10 years in prison on Friday, with 3 1/2 years before he would be eligible for parole. But Owen retained jurisdiction in the case, meaning Bartholomew could be released on probation if he completes the six-month program in prison. Owen said the program would mostly be for the purpose of evaluation.

The fire Bartholomew set burned one home to the ground in the Robie Creek area, and threatened almost 100 others. He was a member of the Clear Creek volunteer fire department when he started the blaze.

The Karney Fire was a major priority for fire crews in mid-September. At one point, more than 300 firefighters on the ground were assisted by tanker planes and helicopters as they worked to keep the fire from getting into the Wilderness Ranch subdivision.

About 80 homeowners were given evacuation notices and roads in the area were closed to all traffic. The aggressive firefighting effort was assisted by cooler temperatures, light rain and higher humidity of fall.

The final costs for fighting the Karney Fire were just under $2.3 million, according to Idaho Department of Lands reports.

Bartholomew told investigators that he set the fire because he wanted to bond with his father, also a firefighter, by fighting the fire alongside him.

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