In an attempt to control huge fires such as the Day Fire, which in 2006 burned through Ventura County for over a month, consuming over 160,000 acres of chaparral, Federal prosecutors took forest dweller Steven Emory Butcher to court.
On Friday he was convicted of starting the Day Fire. This gives prosecutors the option of assessing him for the costs of fighting the fire, estimated in the $70 million dollar range, but since he’s been homeless for years, the usefulness of that tactic looks limited.
The conviction was not a surprise: two years before he had confessed to starting another fire, the Ellis Fire, which burned 70 acres. Butcher is believed to be mentally ill, and prosecutors admitted that in past years, when fires were seemingly not as big a threat, they might not have prosecuted him.
Next question: Will this method work? Check back this September and maybe we’ll find out. Here’s a photo from drumsandwhistles of what the sky looked like during September 06 ’round these parts.