The Bellevue man charged with starting the Sharps Fire, which burned some 65,000 acres in the summer of 2018, will face more than $300,000 in restitution if he pleads guilty to the crime, court documents show.
Ryan Jensen previously pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge of firing timber or prairie land. He was first charged in August 2018 after he reportedly went to the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office and admitted starting the fire by using an exploding target.
A change-of-plea and sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 15. If Jensen pleads guilty, he will be responsible for $303,300 worth of economic loss due to the fire, according to a restitution order issued by 5th District Judge Jennifer Haemmerle on May 20. The victims named in the restitution order include local landowners, the U.S. Forest Service, Idaho Power, Probst Electric Inc., the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, the Idaho Department of Lands, Sun Valley Fire Department, Blaine County and the BLM.
According to the order, Ameriprise insurance would pay $300,000 worth of the restitution on Jensen’s behalf. Jensen himself will be responsible for paying the BLM the remaining $3,300.
The largest chunk of the restitution will go to Lava Lake Land and Livestock in Hailey and Flat Top Sheep Co., which will receive more than $79,000 each. The Forest Service will receive roughly $22,000, the Idaho Department of Lands will get about $23,000 and Blaine County will receive just over $7,000.
The Sharps Fire was ignited 6 miles east of Bellevue on July 29 and burned over a two-week period. Jensen reported the fire to 911, the Sheriff’s Office said.
The maximum penalty for a person convicted of the misdemeanor charge of firing timber or prairie land is six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.