Juvenile and grandmother arrested in connection with the Big Boy Fire

Courtesy photo Mike Roman Roadside view of the Big Boy fire that destroyed five buildings leaving three families homeless.

On June 14, the San Carlos Apache Tribe announced the arrest of a juvenile and his grandmother over the Big Boy Fire near Beaver Springs in the community of Peridot. The cause of the fire was arson committed by a juvenile member of the Tribe.

The Big Boy fire was the fourth local fire for the day spreading over 51 acres completely destroying five buildings, two of which were occupied, and leaving three families homeless - nine members of the Tribe (seven adults and two children). They were provided temporary shelter at the San Carlos Apache Healthcare Corporation compound and the Holiday Inn in Globe, Ariz. The Red Cross also aided the families.

Some 25 personnel courageously fought the fires, consisting of crews from the San Carlos Apache Fire Department (“SCAFD’’), which deployed four structure trucks, and Wildland Fire had six trucks, and two Air Tac helicopters also provided support.

SCAPD Chief Alejandro Benally said, “The Tribe is fortunate to have such high-level coordination among our first responders. All the agencies worked together in life saving mode. Our officers closed the highways and went door to door to evacuate everyone. Then, we worked together with the Rangers and other agencies on apprehension, and we got our suspect quickly.”

One male 15-year-old juvenile was arrested for arson, endangerment, and aggravated criminal damage after admitting to setting the fire. His grandmother, Kathleen Johnson, (56), was also arrested for endangering welfare of a minor by providing false information to law enforcement as to his role in the fire, non-support, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The minor, was arrested by Game & Fish Rangers. SCAPD and BIA Law Enforcement provided additional support and investigation.

SCAFD Chief Moses said, “This fire devastated three families and terrified the community. The cost to the families is incalculable. Power went out, forcing Bush Well to stop pumping leaving the community without water. Dialysis patients were sent home. We had to deliver 270 cases of water to about 100 homes. This occurred during the height of fire season. Our resources were already stretched thin by three local fires at Ocotillo (1 acre), Runway 79 (1.5 acres) and Skill 3 (1.5 acres), so it was fortunate that the Big Boy fire did not spread further into the community.”

Duane Chapman, Fire Management Officer for the Bureau of Indian Affairs San Carlos Agency, said, “The Big Boy fire was intense. Wildland Fire gladly joined with our partners at SCAFD and TERC for a swift, effective response, even though right now we are also fighting forest fires at Dry Lake (4,000 acres) and Blue River (33,400 acres). We need the public to prevent wildfires in our communities,”


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