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Reservation fires arson, officials say

Jul 17, 2012 - By Christina George, Staff Writer

Fire investigators have determined two structure fires on the Wind River Indian Reservation were intentional.

Riverton Fire District fire investigator Matt Lee reviewed both fires, which occurred within hours of one another on July 4 and July 5.

Lee declined to specify how he concluded the fires to be arson, pending a full investigation, but said he has conclusive findings the fires were set intentionally.

According to the Fremont County Sheriff's dispatch log, the Riverton Fire Department responded to a fire at 1499 17 Mile Road shortly after 5 p.m. July 4.

Lee said firefighters arrived at the scene and encountered heavy fire conditions within the interior and exterior of the residence.

"I would say it is a moderate loss," he added.

The house was unoccupied at the time, and Lee said it appeared it was being used for storage.

The second fire occurred at 432 Left Hand Ditch Road and was reported to authorities at 12:06 a.m. July 5.

Lee said the structure, which was an unoccupied abandoned house, was fully engulfed when firefighters reached the scene. He said the fire moved quickly, spreading to adjacent brush in the area because of the dry conditions. The house was determined to be a total loss.

Both fires took roughly 90 minutes to extinguish.

Lee said the structures are about four miles from one another. He said it's probable the fires are connected given their close proximity and when they started.

"It's possible. We don't have any evidence that supports it, but it's pretty suspicious that they happened hours apart," he said.

Lee said both cases have been turned over to the Wind River Police Department for further investigation. Anyone with information regarding the fires is asked to contact the WRPD or the Riverton Fire Department.

"If anyone saw something that day, please give us a call," Lee said.

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