Po­lice: Wannabe weath­er­man set fire to gain Face­book views

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

A wannabe weath­er­man was jailed for ar­son af­ter ad­mit­ting he started a wild­fire to draw at­ten­tion to his selfie videos on Face­book, his town’s po­lice chief said Fri­day. Mean­while, a Ge­or­gia sher­iff ap­pealed for help iden­ti­fy­ing the driver of a dark blue SUV last seen where other wild­fires be­gan. And in North Carolina, au­thor­i­ties sus­pect ar­son in more than 20 wild­fires burn­ing in a national for­est.

“It’s re­ally too bad be­cause he’s not a bad kid - he’s just mis­guided,” said James Stephens, the po­lice chief in Jenkins, Ken­tucky, where Johnny Mullins, 21, was ar­rested this week on a sec­ond-de­gree ar­son charge. “He likes to do Face­book videos and have peo­ple fol­low him on his ‘weather fore­cast,’ so that’s pretty much why he did what he did,” the chief said. “He en­joyed the at­ten­tion he got from the Face­book stuff.”

“He didn’t re­al­ize how much danger he was putting other peo­ple in,” Stephens added. A teenager in Har­lan County, Ken­tucky also was ar­rested for ar­son this week, and in Ten­nessee, au­thor­i­ties said Fri­day that Andrew Scott Lewis was charged with set­ting fires and van­dal­ism caus­ing more than $250,000 in dam­age and threat­en­ing homes out­side Chattanooga. No ar­rests were an­nounced in most of the rest of the sus­pi­cious fires, which have been torch­ing forests in and around the south­ern Ap­palachian moun­tains. The re­lent­less drought across much of the South has re­moved the usual hu­mid­ity and sucked wells and streams dry, mak­ing the woods ripe for fire.

Tens of thou­sands of acres have burned, about a dozen of the largest fires re­main un­con­tained and many peo­ple to evac­u­ate their homes ahead of fast-mov­ing flames.

Law of­fi­cers in Ge­or­gia’s Rabun County sus­pect that some­one started a se­ries of small road­side fires Wed­nes­day that even­tu­ally merged into the much larger blazes fire­fight­ers were work­ing to con­tain on Fri­day, said Justin Upchurch, the county’s as­sis­tant fire chief.

The Rabun County sher­iff ’s of­fice urged peo­ple to be on the look-out, say­ing the SUV was last seen in the area of the fires. The of­fice was more em­phatic in a sep­a­rate Face­book post, ask­ing res­i­dents to spread the word “and help us lock this crim­i­nal up!!!” The area is less than 50 miles from North Carolina’s Nan­ta­hala National For­est, where more than 20 wild­fires that have burned more than 17,000 acres are all “be­ing in­ves­ti­gated for sus­pected ar­son,” forestry of­fi­cials an­nounced in a sta­tus up­date. There were 14 other wild­fires burn­ing on Cherokee Na­tion land in North Carolina, all un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion by lo­cal law en­force­ment. A fire man­agers’ up­date noted that the U.S. Bureau of In­dian Af­fairs is seek­ing in­for­ma­tion about fires on In­dian lands through an ar­son hot­line.

The U.S. For­est Ser­vice an­nounced Fri­day that the en­tire Co­hutta Wilder­ness, which stretches across the Chat­ta­hoochee National For­est in Ge­or­gia and the Cherokee National For­est in Ten­nessee, has been closed to the pub­lic due to mul­ti­ple fires there.

LAKE LURE: In this Wed­nes­day, Nov 9, 2016 photo, a wild­fire burns near Lake Lure, N.C. — AP

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