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Woman accused of using lighter, spray paint to set 700-acre fire near Lucky Peak

Flames, smoke roll toward Lucky Peak Reservoir

Boaters on Lucky Peak Reservoir Sunday were inundated with smoke as a wildfire burned nearby. The fire, fanned by gusty winds, closed Idaho 21 for several hours.
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Boaters on Lucky Peak Reservoir Sunday were inundated with smoke as a wildfire burned nearby. The fire, fanned by gusty winds, closed Idaho 21 for several hours.

The woman accused of igniting a 700-acre fire that burned the hillsides around Lucky Peak Reservoir on July 15 is being held on $100,000 bond at the Ada County Jail, according to court documents.

Sara D. Schaeffer, 37, was arraigned Thursday on a charge of felony third-degree arson.

The fire burned public and private land near the reservoir and along Idaho 21 in Boise County.

It was named the Mile Marker 21 fire, though it actually started closer to Mile Marker 20, according to Sharla Arledge, a spokeswoman for Idaho Department of Lands. There is a parking area and scenic overlook in that area. The fire started on the reservoir side of the highway, then jumped to the other side.

According to the criminal complaint, Schaeffer is accused of using “a lighter and/or spray paint to light brush on fire.”

sara schaeffer.jpg
Sara Schaeffer Ada County Jail

Boise County Sheriff Jim Kaczmarek didn’t respond to requests for information Friday on whether there were witnesses to the start of the fire, and if investigators have determined a motive.

Schaeffer is being held at the Ada County Jail because Boise County doesn’t have a jail. Schaeffer was arraigned via video.

Boise County Magistrate Judge Roger Cockerille set bond at $100,000 but said he might later consider lowering the bond if assurances for her safety and the public could be provided, according to court documents. Schaeffer is being represented by public defender Robert Chastain.

A preliminary hearing has been set for 11 a.m. July 30 before Judge Cockerille.

The fire shut down the highway, and a pilot car was then used to ferry traffic on the highway.

It was investigated by numerous agencies, including: Idaho State Fire Marshal’s Office, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Idaho Department of Lands and the Ada County Sheriff’s Office.

The Boise County Sheriff’s Office, working with Ada County investigators, arrested Schaeffer. She was booked into the Ada County Jail on Wednesday afternoon on two unrelated Ada County warrants. The jail roster lists two misdemeanor failure to appear charges.

Schaeffer was charged with misdemeanor counts of driving without a license and not having a certificate or proof of liability insurance in February, according to online court records. She was cited with a failure to appear in court in March and earlier this month.

Katy Moeller: 208-377-6413

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