Local law enforcement says they have identified those responsible for a grass fire that burned over 400 acres last week near Eagle.
Investigators say four teenagers, whom police have found and talked with, accidentally started the blaze after setting off fireworks on Oct. 7, according to a Thursday news release from the Ada County Sheriff’s Office.
The Sheriff’s Office says that the four teens — a 15-year-old girl, a 15-year-old boy and two 16-year-old boys — were setting off aerial fireworks near hiking trails at the Eagle Sports Complex at around 4:30 p.m. before a man saw them and told them to stop and leave.
Deputies say the teens then moved over to Goose Creek Road and continued to light off fireworks, which started the large fire on a windy day.
“The teens then took off without trying to put out the fire, which spread quickly,” the Sheriff’s Office said in the news release.
Ada County dispatchers started receiving calls about the fire at around 5 p.m.
Crews from the Eagle Fire Department, which has a station close to the sports complex, were the first to respond. Firefighters from the Bureau of Land Management, Boise and Meridian arrived at the scene soon after, as the fire began to spread toward homes near Horseshoe Bend and West Hill roads.
Later, the wind pushed the flames toward homes in the Seamans Gulch Road area.
As the blaze continued to spread, Ada County deputies asked those in roughly a dozen homes to evacuate. Members of the Red Cross and officials with the Boise School District prepared to open nearby Riverglen Junior High School in case an emergency shelter was needed.
That wasn’t needed.
Firefighters were able to knock down the active flames by around 8:30 p.m., with only one structure being lost to the fire. No homes were burned or lost. Those evacuated were able to return to their homes later in the night. Crews worked throughout the night and into the next day to check for hot spots.
The Sheriff’s Office said it didn’t take long before law enforcement started getting tips that teens were setting off fireworks before the blaze began. Detectives later identified them based on other tips. As of Thursday evening, the case has been sent to the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office to screen for potential charges.
One potential charge is “firing timber or prairie lands,” which is a misdemeanor under Idaho law. It also is illegal to set off aerial fireworks in the state, even though it is legal to purchase them here.