May 28, 2013

State of Alabama
Press Release: Forestry Commission, Alabama

Man Arrested for Starting Wildfires in Lawrence County

     Investigators with the Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) arrested 21-year-old James Luke Ellis of Moulton, Alabama, on May 23, 2013, charging him with Wildland Arson and placing him in the Lawrence County jail. AFC Chief Craig Hill stated that Ellis was arrested for allegedly starting eight wildfires on March 16 in the Mt. Hope area of Lawrence County. “One fire was set near a house on private property and the seven other fires were started on US Forest Service (USFS) lands,” said Hill. “Thanks to witnesses in the area and USFS agents, we were able to identify suspects.” The investigation continues and other arrests may be forthcoming.

     According to Chief Hill, wildland arson is a problem in this state with approximately 31 percent of all wildfires being intentionally set. It is a Class C Felony which, upon conviction, carries a penalty of one to ten years imprisonment and/or up to a $15,000 fine.    

     The Alabama Forestry Commission is committed to reducing the number of forestry-related crimes that occur each year across the state. These crimes generate losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to landowners, the timber industry, and Alabama’s economy. The AFC provides an Arson/Forest Crimes Hotline so that citizens can call and report wildland arson, theft of timber, and vandalism or theft of harvesting equipment. The toll-free number is 1 (800) 222-2927. Any information provided is confidential and the caller remains anonymous.

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