Posted: Jun 14, 2013 1:54 PM by MTN News with Melissa Anderson reporting
Updated: Jun 14, 2013 1:54 PM
HELENA - A teen charged with 12 counts of arson reportedly admitted to starting a string of wildfires because he wanted to work as a firefighter.
Fredrick James Maw, 18, of East Helena was formally charged with 12 counts of arson in district court on Thursday. He faces up to 240 years in prison for the offenses, which carry a maximum penalty of 20 years each.
Maw was arrested the same day he allegedly started the fires in the York and Nelson area north of Helena on May 15. According to court documents, he acknowledged starting fires near Winston and on Priest Pass earlier in the week.
Maw reportedly told detectives that he wanted to start a fire in order to go to work as a firefighter so he could pay his mounting bills and debt.
Maw's charges stem from the Priest Pass Fire, the Spokane Hills Fire near Winston and the string of fires that were sparked in the York and Nelson Gulch areas.
Authorities began questioning Maw when he was discovered near one of the fires dressed in firefighting gear. They also reportedly found incriminating evidence on his cell phone, connecting him with the fires at Spokane Hills in Broadwater County and in Priest Pass the week before.
According to court documents, investigators found a butane torch and fuel cylinder under the rear seat of his pickup, which was taken into evidence.
Maw remains in jail on a $100,000 bond. His arraignment is scheduled for June 20.