Wannabe weath­er­man starts wild­fire for Face­book views

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

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

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