Nathaniel Bartholomew, now 23, told investigators he set a September 2012 wildfire in the Robie Creek area because he wanted to bond with his father, a firefighter.
Now, he’s charged with felony injury to a child after a family friend noticed injuries on his daughter.
The friend, who was babysitting the 3-month-old girl, called the Ada County Sheriff’s Office, which began an investigation.
Bartholomew later told authorities he got frustrated with the child, Delaney Peugh, a deputy Ada County prosecutor, told Magistrate Theresa Gardunia during a Thursday arraignment hearing. He told several stories that didn’t match up with the girl’s injuries before admitting what happened, Peugh said.
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“He admitted dropping the baby and putting pressure on her temples,” Peugh said.
The girl suffered “significant bruising and swelling” to her face and eyelid, he said. The child was diagnosed with bleeding to the brain.
Bartholomew pleaded guilty to intentionally starting the wildfire, which destroyed one home and threatened nearly 100 others.
He was a member of the Clear Creek volunteer fire department when he started the blaze, dubbed the Karney Fire. At one point, more than 300 firefighters, assisted by tanker planes and helicopters, battled the fire. They worked to keep it from spreading into the Wilderness Ranch subdivision.
Eighty homeowners were asked to leave their homes and roads in the area were closed. The cost for fighting the fire was nearly $2.3 million.
Bartholomew spent time in prison and was paroled in April 2015. He was taken to jail on a parole violation before being charged in the injury of his daughter. It now appears he has been returned to prison.
He is scheduled to return to court April 20 for a preliminary hearing.