A Montana man has been arrested and charged with causing the Robertson Fire outside Red Lodge that blackened 46 square miles and destroyed more than two dozen homes and structures.
55-year-old John Lightburn of Bridger was attempting to repair his motorcycle on US Forest Service land the Robertson Draw area which was closed to travel.
Lightburn told a retired investigator near the scene of the fire that he was riding a dirt bike on the trail when the malfunction occurred. He told a Forest Service law enforcement officer who responded to the scene of the fire that his dirt bike had appeared to be flooding. During an attempt to repair the bike, Lightburn said he spilled gasoline.
Lightburn then told the officer when he checked the spark plug, it caused a spark that ignited the gasoline and the vegetation around it. An abandoned motorcycle that appeared burned was later found on the scene.
Conditions that day were unseasonably hot and dry, contributing to the fire risk. Lightburn is being held in the Gallatin County Detention Center in lieu of $7500 bond. Efforts to contain the fire so far have cost $5-million, according to officials.