Wannabe weatherman starts wildfire for Facebook views
WASHINGTON: An aspiring weatherman has been charged with arson in the US after he admitted to starting a wildfire so that he could film it for Facebook.
Johnny Mullins regularly posted videos on social media entitled “Weather Outlook”.
His final video, filmed in a burning forest, had nearly 3,000 views at the time of his arrest for second-degree arson.
“It’s really too bad because he’s not a bad kid – he’s just misguided,” James Stephens, the local police chief in Mullins’ home town of Jenkins, Kentucky, said.
“He enjoyed the attention he got from the Facebook stuff.”
The 21-year-old continued to post updates on the blaze on his timeline until he was apprehended.
On Nov 5, he wrote: “A forest fire warning is out for all of the eastern Kentucky Mountains.
“Burning hot spots is causing numerous of fires to continue to spread across the mountains.
“I do not think these are being set intentionally,” he said.
“We have a very dry air mass that continues to stay in place and we are under dangerous drought conditions. We do not have any rain chances in the forecast, well not enough to help the fire threat.”
Wildfires broke out across the southeastern US in November, affecting parts of Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina and Georgia.
Authorities suspect arson might have been a factor in over 20 of them.
A teenager in Harlan County, Kentucky was also arrested for arson early this month.
In Tennessee, authorities said on Friday that a man had been charged with setting fires and vandalism causing over US$250,000 (RM1.1 million) in damages and threatening homes outside the city of Chattanooga.
No arrests were announced in most of the rest of the suspicious fires, which have been destroying 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, Associated Press said.
Stephens said Mullins did not realise the severity of his actions as he was caught up in racking up Facebook views.
But the public were less understanding with some online commenters telling him to “go to hell” and hoping that he’d be locked up for good over his stupidity. – The Independent