GREAT FALLS — Donald Breese of Polson, 48, has been arrested after he allegedly pretended to be a fire investigator and entered the inner perimeter of the Boulder 2700 Fire incident area.
The fire is burning near Finley Point several miles northeast of Polson.
Lake County Sheriff Donald Bell said in a news release that on Sunday, Aug. 1, his office was notified of a man who identified himself as an incident commander and/or fire investigator within the inner perimeter of the incident area.
The man, later identified as Breese, was dressed in "typical wildland fire fatigues" and presented identification to enter the area. Firefighters recognized that Breese was not associated with the firefighting efforts and requested that the Lake County Sheriff’s Office investigate.
Detectives obtained a warrant and conducted a search of Breese’s home on Wednesday, Aug. 4, and later arrested Breese for impersonating a public servant and obstructing a public servant.
The cause of the Boulder 2700 Fire is still being investigated by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office in conjunction with CSKT fire investigators. The fire has burned 1,844 acres as of Thursday, and some evacuations remain in effect along Montana Highway 35. The fire has destroyed eight primary structures and damaged 15 secondary structures. There are 257 personnel assigned to the fire.
Bell also noted that at this time, only residents and authorized guests of those residents are permitted to enter the area of Finley Point and from milepost 6 on Highway 35 to Mahood Lane. Residents and guests may obtain re-entry passes from the Linderman Elementary School Gym.
Highway 35 remains completely closed from Mahood Lane to milepost 16. He also asks that boaters stay out of Skidoo and Blue Bay due to fire suppression aircraft efforts, adding that interference with fire suppression efforts may result in arrest.