Montana Man Found Guilty of Arson for Devastating "Boulder 2700" Wildfire

A Lake County jury delivered a guilty verdict on February 8 against Craig Allen McCrea, convicting him of two counts of arson, including one related to the infamous "Boulder 2700" wildfire that ravaged the Flathead area of Montana in 2021, according to a press release from the Montana Attorney General office.  

The blaze, considered one of the season's most destructive, consumed nearly 2,600 acres, devoured 14 homes and 17 structures, and forced mass evacuations in the region."Arson cases are notoriously challenging, but thanks to the tireless efforts of local detectives and prosecutors, we secured justice for the families whose lives were shattered by McCrea's actions," said Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen.

Evidence revealed McCrea wasn't just responsible for the Boulder 2700 fire, but also ignited the Finley Fire near Missoula County just days prior. While smaller in scale, this blaze still scorched 18 acres.

The investigation unfolded like a dark puzzle.

Initially suspected of setting several fires near Flathead Lake, McCrea faced additional arson charges, though not all secured convictions. Witness testimony from Crystal Kline, who accompanied McCrea during one fire, revealed she believed they were simply entering the woods, unaware of his intent to start a fire. Disturbingly, evidence suggested they traveled to Washington to purchase fentanyl around the same time as the fires. McCrea further complicated matters by pleading guilty to an unrelated drug possession charges.

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Due to his prior criminal history, McCrea now faces a potential 100-year sentence for each arson count, significantly exceeding the standard 20-year maximum. Additionally, he may be burdened with millions in restitution for both property damage and firefighting costs.

While McCrea awaits sentencing, this verdict delivers a measure of relief to the communities scarred by his actions, reminding Montanans of the severe consequences of arson and the dedication of law enforcement to holding perpetrators accountable.

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