here’s where fire appears to have started

By Jim Stanford on September 10, 2012

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Update 5:30 p.m.: “Unless conditions deteriorate significantly, there will not be an evacuation tonight.” Hurray! Every flare-up on the ridge quenched quickly.

Update 4:30 p.m.: Crews appear to have the upper hand. No flames on ridge, smoke diminishing.

Update 3:10 p.m.: Flames have begun to crest Snow King again up Cache Creek, closer to town than last night, but a slurry bomber just doused the ridge with retardant. The battle rages over east Jackson.

Charred areas of grass and sage lead to this backyard in the Little Horsethief subdivision south of town. Cops say the fire originated in a barrel or drum during an illegal burn. Click to enlarge.

Authorities have confirmed that the Little Horsethief Fire, which ignited Saturday and has burned more than 2,000 acres around Jackson, was started by an illegal burn at a residence south of town.

The charring emanates from a property at the mouth of Wilson Canyon, adjacent to Bridger-Teton National Forest. County records show it belongs to James Anderson III of Jackson. Anderson has not responded to a phone message left this morning.

Police Chief Todd Smith said the fire started near a residence and was “intended to be a controlled burn.” A fire ban was in effect at the time.

Violating the fire ban is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $750 and six months in jail. The Teton County fire marshal is heading the investigation and likely will submit a report to the county attorney.

Google Earth shows recent activity of Little Horsethief Fire, as of 1:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, residents of east Jackson, particularly those who live on Snow King Mountain, nervously are watching the hillsides around Cache Creek as the blaze smolders and winds have begun picking up.

I’ve fielded inquiries from near and far regarding the level of danger in east Jackson. So far there does not appear to be much to worry about; the evacuation advisory was intended as a precaution. We won’t know till later this afternoon, after winds whip up the fire, how much it will spread near Cache Creek.

South of town, spot fires continue to burn on the mountainsides around Wilson Canyon, even south of the apparent ignition point. The flare-ups likely will keep crews busy for days.

Just north of the Little Horsethief neighborhood, visible from Highway 89, the hillside is stained red from drops of flame retardant. Up Wilson Canyon, the fire did not burn everything in its path, but torched areas of grass, sage and trees. Smoke continues to rise from numerous points around the canyon.

View of Wilson Canyon as the Little Horsethief Fire smolders this afternoon, above the residence where the blaze appears to have started.

Fire managers are holding a public meeting at 7 p.m. today at Davey Jackson Elementary to field questions and give residents an overview of the blaze.

(Google Earth map available here. Or click here to download latest image.)

Correction: An earlier version of this story said the sheriff was heading the investigation; that duty falls to the fire marshal. Also, Police Chief Smith said he did not know if the fire started in some sort of barrel or drum, but it was intended to be a controlled burn.


Posted under Crime, Environment, Weather

107 Comments so far

  1. rachel. September 10, 2012 2:52 pm

    thanks for the info, jim! i’m sending best wishes to you all!

  2. Jessica September 10, 2012 3:09 pm

    James Anderson better have a damn good explanation, and a quick getaway, I think there are a few pissed-off people right now, and a whole ecosystem at stake!

  3. Pat September 10, 2012 3:20 pm

    While it doesn’t look good for James, Im holding judgement until I get more than just speculation from a blog.

  4. Mike V September 10, 2012 3:23 pm

    Sorry Jessica, but how is the whole ecosystem at stake?

  5. js September 10, 2012 3:34 pm

    This is not speculation; these are the facts we know so far. Let’s all not rush to judgment.

  6. thanksjim September 10, 2012 3:35 pm

    why did it take 2 whole days to release this info? pretty obvious source..

  7. Suzy Q September 10, 2012 3:36 pm

    Just because that is the homeowner does not mean it’s the person responsible either. The homeowner could live elsewhere and have renters, or visitors, or intruders…

  8. js September 10, 2012 3:46 pm

    … or kids. Right, Suzy.
    Fire managers have urged east Jackson residents not to turn sprinklers on, to save water pressure for firefighters, if necessary. Also, if you evacuate, do not turn off natural gas. Fliers left on doors were wrong.
    Fire information phone line is 307-739-5577.

  9. kate September 10, 2012 4:36 pm

    I live in East Jackson and yes, we are all being effected or possibly evacuation due to this fire. I am along with every jackson resident deeply saddened by the distruction, harm of animals and hardwork of the firefighters. But as a life time local I can tell you it’s clear this person did NOT do this on purpose. I’m sure they feel bad enough without all your harsh words.

  10. TT September 10, 2012 5:32 pm

    exactly Katie, thank you.

  11. Harry September 10, 2012 5:32 pm

    Give the guy a break. Let’s let all the facts come out before we start playing the blame game.

  12. CC September 10, 2012 6:22 pm

    Agreed, let the investigative system work. But in terms of intent and feeling bad…didn’t they cancel the flippin fireworks!!!???!!! I’m sorry, but intent doesn’t clear you from guilt when you do something stupid and illegal. Empathy is a great quality for everyone to have, and people should express it more, agreed. But they cancelled the flippin fireworks!! A person who leaves a baby or a dog in a hot car probably doesn’t intend to create the horrible outcome, but at some point a dumb decision was made with some level of awareness of a different option. Thankfully no one has been hurt!

  13. Pat Bartholomew September 10, 2012 7:12 pm

    I am saddened that man was responsible for all this damage. The person responsible faces fines to pay for the fire damage and fighting, and jail time. It is too soon to judge anyone guilty. I just pray that evacuation is not necessary tonite and that tomorrow Cache Creek is out of harms way.

  14. Dedra September 10, 2012 7:19 pm

    In the photo, it appears that someone was staining/painting some items. Rags being used could have become conbustable in a trash can. It happened many years ago in a storage unit on Meadowlark Lane. Remember that? Stop passing judgement on Jim Anderson. He’s a good, honest man and I don’t think that he would have done this intentionally, if he is even responsible at all. Maybe someone else was working there? And left the work site for the day not realizing what might happen when staining rags and heat mix. Let’s all just be glad that no structures or human lives have been taken.

  15. Clarissa Tompkins September 10, 2012 7:30 pm

    Jay Anderson owns the home, but he was out of town when the fire started. His father, Jim Anderson is the culprit. He should pay the highest fine and serve the longest sentence possible. The irony in this situation is that Jim Anderson is a prominent Tea Party member in Jackson. He’s opposed to paying taxes, yet we are all now burdened with paying for his mistake! Maybe he’ll at least realize what taxes are for now! Or maybe he’ll volunteer to pay for all the costs out of his own deep pockets.

  16. Faith September 10, 2012 7:43 pm

    I agree, that this early in the game, we can’t pass immediate judgment on Mr. Anderson, without a throughout investigation being conducted. HOWEVER, if this fire WAS caused by a citzen conducting ANY type of burn, whether it was intended to be a “controlled burn” or not, during a Fire Ban is inexcusable! As much as I enjoy playing devil’s advocate for an underdog, Try explaining to the homeowner who’s house just burn down, that Mr. Anderson or whoever, “did NOT do this on purpose” & “feels bad enough” about it already. No disrespect guys….but seriously?!?

  17. AJ September 10, 2012 8:11 pm

    Clarissa Tompkins should pay me for the time I just spent reading her ridiculous and irrelevant post.

  18. Monique September 10, 2012 8:52 pm

    I am saddened to see what is happening and pray that the fire is contained soon but you guys must know that Mr. Anderson is sickened as to what is happening. Anyone would be. I am sure it was, had to be an accident and let’s put things into perspective, there has been no loss of life. Material things can be replaced, houses rebuilt. Inconvenience of course but no loss of life.

  19. MM September 10, 2012 8:59 pm

    …actually, it might be a relevant bigger-picture question if true. But we are certainly getting further away from the post’s subject. Let’s give js a week or two, then ask questions like that….

  20. Friend of East Jackson September 10, 2012 9:24 pm

    First, will someone please delete Clarissa Tompkins message? This is not a witch hunt!

    More importantly, this is tragic and unfortunate. Here is a SHOUT-OUT to all of the Firefighters, Police and volunteers that have worked HARD to contain the fire and save many homes (especially the homes of people I care about in E. Jackson). This is not meant to take away from the homes that were save south of town.

  21. jackson native September 10, 2012 9:28 pm

    @clarissa thompkins: where is the civility, love and compassion now, thompkins? You crucify someone before you even know the facts which makes you a hypocrite and an ass!

  22. Jim Stanford September 10, 2012 9:43 pm

    Mistakes happen. I’m willing to cut an old-timer some slack, especially if it’s an honest mistake. It was a Saturday afternoon; what if he was doing yard work and disposing of waste the way he’s done for 30 or 40 years? It’s September. A lot of us weren’t sure whether there was a fire ban in effect.
    That said, if this information had been released sooner, perhaps it would have cleared up misinformation, quashed rumors and defused anger. There is no reason why the cause shouldn’t have been identified, at least the basic details. Facts are facts. Instead, the cause of the fire was “under investigation” by a series of officials, spokespeople and bureaucratic buck-passing, when anyone could have seen where it started.
    Tonight we should be grateful for the heroism of the firefighters and relieved that the blaze wasn’t much worse.

  23. jackson native September 10, 2012 9:53 pm

    Phew! As long as jim is willing to cut some slack then all is well, except for his disgruntled interlude about government. It makes one wonder why a man with such contempt for govertment wants to be a part of it…lets go Mets!

  24. the truth September 10, 2012 10:13 pm

    The fire is already burning. why should we try to lynch somebody before we know all the facts. I used to live in the valley and have always believed the folks that live and work there are on the same team. Show the rest of the world what makes the hole the best. how we all come together in a time of need for each other

  25. noname September 10, 2012 10:20 pm

    Clarissa Tompkins, bitch please! You really think that Jim Anderson should go to jail for 6 months for a simple accident? And him being a Tea Party member has nothing at all to do with this situation. You’re and ass and a hypocrite. You’re probably just a finger-pointing d*ckwad. Give the old man some slack. The fire hasn’t even harmed any houses or people. All it’s done is burn the hillside, and trees grow back eventually.

  26. Another Jackson Native September 10, 2012 10:20 pm

    @jackson native- a little civility, compassion and love on your part wouldn’t hurt either, my friend. No need to get nasty

  27. pc September 10, 2012 10:26 pm

    So James Anderson starts a fire and the feds clean up his mess… I wonder how that whole thing works in his tea party paradigm? does his precious free market pick up the bill? No. we do. Just like we pick up his bill for his medicare, his social security, and his welfare which he no doubt collects. Maybe it was not a barrel fire but a tea party cross burning and james, Mitt, and 90% of I duh ho, Wyoming, and the deep south, should pay the bill?

  28. JacksonNative2 September 10, 2012 10:44 pm

    Fire ban… No Fire ban… volatile rags…. blazing trash-burn… Whatever, the fact of the matter is Jackson is dangerously close to a raging nightmare. It’s a long way from being over, and conditions over the next few days aren’t that great, so I wouldn’t start counting lucky stars quite yet.

    There is a lot of forest that I enjoy that will be different now for the rest of my life. Maybe not the worst thing, as now Jackson will have a better fire break from its south flank, but it’s gonna suck for the next few years most likely.

    Whatever the outcome, I hope that the damage is minimal. I also hope that whomever is responsible is made to pay. Honest mistake or criminal negligence it doesn’t matter, there are hundreds of firefighters risking their lives and thousands of residents nervous.

  29. Brad September 10, 2012 10:45 pm

    What an amateur act. All of you, EVERYONE here naming names, starting with you, Stanford, oughta be ashamed of yourselves for placing guilt with no confirmation other than a photo, of what? “…if this information had been released sooner…”, what, Jim, it would have prevented you from abdicating your reporter cred and spreading rumor? “…no reason why the cause shouldn’t have been identified sooner…?? What, are you a fire investigator now, Kathy Clay should hire you? Sorry, you threw out the first volley naming Anderson III; no excuse for that. Maybe another individual in question here is the culprit, but no one knows until officials start talking. In spite of what you said earlier, Jim, it IS speculation on your part.

  30. pc September 10, 2012 10:53 pm

    I don’t want to hear about how we are A ok… we were/are a slight wind shift and humidity drop away from loosing much. Maybe this ass clown should put his money where his mout is and pay the 100% bill. Isn’t personal responsibilty what the teap party is all about? AND, this fire has drained precious resources from other locations. As for jumping to judgement, a picture tells a thousand words and this guy should have more tea parties and less barbecues….

  31. Friend of East Jackson September 10, 2012 11:04 pm


  32. C September 10, 2012 11:04 pm

    I agree Jackson Native 2 – I am sure it most likely was an accident, but one that should not have happened, and that is why there was a fire ban in place so people who might think hey, i need to burn this crap, dont do it! … as hard as it is, you make a mistake, take the punishment. This is a pretty major OOPS that should not get brushed under the rug.

  33. skip September 10, 2012 11:07 pm

    I sit here ready to throw any and all of you under the bus. But why? Because I am a progressive and I don’t like a tea partier? Suppose he was a dem and did the same thing–would I then excuse him for being an honest guy who made an honest mistake? How would I treat it if I didn’t know his political affiliation?

    We’re quick to put tags on people and somehow do some backwards analysis, suggesting that the person who caused this fire caused this fire because he was a tea-partier, etc. What a stupid idea.

    We do need to come together as a community–helping one another through this (and all) trying times. And we should consider starting by forgiving this unfortunate guy. He really didn’t do anything any stupider than any of us might have done on our best day. And if you dispute that, then you’re a liar.

  34. Jwl September 10, 2012 11:28 pm

    Fire ban has been in place since first of July. If you didn’t know that your head is placed far up your ass. Also, for those who don’t pay attention: do not feed the bears, stay on the boardwalk, no molesting the animals, bear spray is not a repellant, caution contents may be hot, skiing is inherently a dangerous sport, and your a f’n moron!

  35. ummm really September 10, 2012 11:40 pm

    Ummm cant you just look at the mountains and sage and see that its brown and pretty dried up right now? Shouldn’t that be enough to know that you shouldn’t burn anything?? I’m just saying a little commen sense could have avoided this. You can only pray now that no one gets hurt

  36. Levi September 10, 2012 11:40 pm

    If I drive drunk and kill someone, then Im assuming this town will let me off the hook cause it sounds like everyone is going to cut me some slack since I didn’t intend to kill them, even though I blatantly broke the law. Whether the culprit in this article is the actual culprit or not, there must be consequences for whoever started this fire. Yes, there has been no loss of life, but lets say I dont kill anyone while out driving drunk, lets say I drive my car through the front of your house instead. It was an “accident,” so you’ll let me off the hook , right?

  37. Radical September 11, 2012 12:14 am

    No one has ever said that the responsible party should not be held accountable. Just that at this point there is no confirmation, just speculation. A persons political belief are irrelevant. A burning ban is just that and it applies to EVERYONE.

    By the way the Tea Party is not against paying taxes. The Tea Party is opposed to the wasteful misuse of the taxes that are collected from all of use.

    Thank you firefighters

  38. Andy Bennett September 11, 2012 12:17 am

    I couldn’t care less who started the fire or their political leanings; bottom line is they must be held responsible. To cut anyone ‘slack’ for starting a 2,000+ acre fire is unthinkable, regardless of intent.

    Our focus should be on supporting and praising the selfless firefighters that more than likely saved this awesome town. Vilifying an individual does no one any good, let the authorities/courts figure that out.

  39. al anon September 11, 2012 12:48 am

    Asking the Tea Baggers to have common sense? Really? Can we see Jim Anderson’s birth certificate? I think the aliens smuggled him from Kenya. Don’t forget that climate change is the biggest hoax committed against the human race. Maybe if the fire was legitimately raped she could shut that whole thing down. Al Queda did it!!! Yeaaaaahh… that’s the ticket. Damn liberals!

  40. Amy September 11, 2012 2:20 am

    This entire post and comments are so disappointing, I am with Brad. Why are we so hungry to point the finger? Sorry Jim, but this is where journalism is at its worst.

  41. neighbors September 11, 2012 2:25 am

    This may have been the likely cause of the fire, but when people were speculating it may have been from the power transformers down there, why weren’t people ready to lynch everyone at LVL?

    Come on, folks. If it is Jim or Jay’s fault (or whomever’s), let’s have some neighborly understanding that they didn’t do it on purpose!!!!!! These are people many of us have known for years and years. Who cares about their political leanings, they are good, decent people!!!! Just like most of you reading this and most of your neighbors. In fact, this town is still small enough, they ARE your neighbors.

    We all know these lands have been set to explode with fire for a long time — not just this one particular year. It sucks, yes, but a fire in the greater Snow King area was overdue to happen, whether the cause was lightening, a transformer spark, a cigarette butt, whatever. Let’s be thankful it’s fall and that we have such great local, regional and national fire crews to help us out when the inevitable, albeit frightening thing, happens.

    To Jim regarding the fire marshal not putting out a cause yet…. Maybe this is the reason. To prevent a bunch of lamebrains from making matters worse at a time when the community should simply be coming together to help each other out.

  42. kevin p. September 11, 2012 7:05 am

    No hablo english?

  43. Cbc September 11, 2012 7:19 am

    Agree with AJ……also we don’t have the facts yet all we know is it started there not who or how….

  44. jenni lake September 11, 2012 7:48 am

    Jim and jhunderground have done everything right here. Everyone can see where the fire started. Jhunderground called the homeowner for comment. This is a blog for information – people have been looking for this information. what we choose to do with the information -be mad! be forgiving! be circumspect! make it about politics! – is our own business, not that of jhunderground.

    Jim Stanford rightly pointed out what all other news organizations and fire officials have been reluctant to say. I’m sure they all have been asked a zillion times how the fire started, so continuing to stay silent seems disrespectful when the community seems to already know what is going on.

    This is an excellent example of why Jim SHOULD be a government official and probably wants to be part of it in the first place. He knows he can do better.

    Thank you firefighters!

  45. Monique September 11, 2012 7:51 am

    To Skip & Neighbors… that’s exactly what I was trying to say in a shorter version. All you people out there who have never lost anything before in your life, be glad that the residents have time to get their loved ones out of harms way, anything else can be replaced. Once again, put it into perspective… if your child was dying on the table you wouldn’t care much about the house. Great job to the firefighters!

  46. deb September 11, 2012 8:16 am

    Hey Jim, quit reporting facts…it just pisses people off

  47. joe September 11, 2012 8:24 am

    the fire has elevated everyone’s stress levels and this blog is trying to take advantage of everyones emotions, albeit with a very sophomoric style.

  48. Lisa September 11, 2012 8:35 am

    Remembering firefighters and innocents victims who lost their lives 11 years ago today on September 11, 2001……


  49. Crusty Monkey September 11, 2012 8:37 am

    We all know that forests burn and need to occasionally burn. In this case however, rules were disregarded and the resulting fire has already caused physical harm. On Sunday one fireman had to be taken to the hospital with severe respiratory difficulty from smoke inhalation. We have no idea how many wild animals have lost their lives. We chose to live with the risk, as the firefighters chose risky professions. Rules or no rules, common sense and community were not considered if this was indeed a trash burn during the driest summer in many years.

    On another note, keep a close eye on all your pets and livestock as we are likely going to see a lot of wildlife flushed through surrounding neighborhoods in the coming days!

  50. JillJo September 11, 2012 8:45 am

    All volunteer firefighters and affiliated officials seriously kick butt! I am proud of you all. You’re doing a fantastic job. Thank you!

  51. PLG September 11, 2012 8:50 am

    “Can’t we all just get along” RK…R.I.P

  52. K September 11, 2012 9:23 am

    Thank you firefighters!!

  53. Roger Hammerstein September 11, 2012 10:06 am

    I don’t know who was responsible for the fire but clearly it started on this guys property. I can’t believe how many people are trying to apologize for someone blatantly breaking the law and endangering lives. ’nuff said.

  54. DDub September 11, 2012 10:23 am

    Thank you firefighters-watching them from our home in Melody Ranch has given me new respect. They have to be the hardest working people on the planet. Those of you who have not donated to Old Bill’s yet, think of your local Fire/EMS. Donate before 9/14 so funds can be matched.

  55. Blog This September 11, 2012 10:46 am

    No matter how much they try to imitate, blogs aren’t journalism and bloggers aren’t journalists.

  56. Rob Weinstein September 11, 2012 11:38 am

    And yet, I’m certain the N&G or the Planet doesn’t get 55 letters (or even phone calls) in two days.

  57. Jay September 11, 2012 12:49 pm

    A friend of mine pointed out the possibility that the cyclist who died on Saturday may have been distracted from the road by the humungous plume of smoke that suddenly appeared in front of him, and therefore MAY not have seen the approaching pothole that he fatally swerved to avoid. Obviously this is just speculation, but it puts a whole new perspective on the damage that something like this can cause. It’s not just damage directly from the fire… the damage has a potential reach way beyond the flames and smoke. Something to think about…

  58. Kate September 11, 2012 2:11 pm

    Thank you fire fighters!!! What an amazing job- appreciate all of you and so grateful for your efforts. Stay safe : )

  59. Pat September 11, 2012 2:41 pm

    Jim, you need to realize that you have a single fact, and you didnt even get that right. They dont know if it was in a barrel, just a controlled burn. A photo and your own guesses do not count as facts. These comments are your fault.

    Stick to being all rad in Jackson, not reporting news that affects the entire population. I think you wanted this cat fight with your article for your own ego.

  60. Stuart Smith September 11, 2012 2:55 pm

    Those of you who want to name names and point fingers should start by giving using own. Though I might not agree with Clarissa’s opinion, at least she’s not giving one anonymously. And kudos to Jim for the effort he’s making on this story.

  61. Jim Stanford September 11, 2012 3:19 pm

    Just tell us what happened. That’s what I ask in times of crisis, like when the kid shot himself two winters ago and the community spent two days in fear of a hooded gunman for no reason. Good information quells speculation and anger. People are likely to be frustrated when they can’t get information, including myself.
    In the story I reported several basic facts, which I confirmed with county records and two law enforcement officers (one off the record). Much of this information was accessible to anyone who drove down there, observed the site and did some research online. I chose my words carefully and checked with several other journalists before posting, and all of them agreed it was essential news and thorough reporting.
    The commenter Clarissa Tompkins came out and said what sources had hinted at but would not confirm, because it was technically not their jurisdiction or investigation. Today, the fourth day of the fire, the official line from those in charge is that the cause is still “under investigation,” as if Sherlock Holmes was out there with a magnifying glass, scouring the forest for an ember.
    In my comment, I gave an opinion, trying to keep the discussion in perspective. Imagine if this was your father or grandfather. That does not mean I think the person should get off scot-free. The criminal justice system will make those decisions later.
    Brad and Amy, a good journalist has the responsibility to ask hard questions and provide the public with information, even if officials are reluctant to release it. Sometimes the truth is unpleasant.
    I know the family in question. I feel for what they must be going through. But you do not nearly burn the town down and get to remain anonymous.

  62. mark September 11, 2012 3:48 pm

    I find it interesting or perhaps a bit sad that politics got dragged into this. With that being said, I’m sure Romney put the culprit up to this….

    Sarcasm aside, I’m sure that there isn’t a minute that goes by that the culprit is not thinking and worrying himself sick over this. Rightfully so as this is kind of a big deal.

    Albeit a mistake, there has to be some amount of accountability. That accountability must only be to the things that actually happened, not the things that could have happened.

  63. Roger Hammerstein September 11, 2012 3:55 pm

    A well reasoned response from Jim Stanford. I agree completely.

  64. Colleen September 11, 2012 4:10 pm

    @ Jay who said “A friend of mine pointed out the possibility that the cyclist who died on Saturday may have been distracted from the road by the humungous plume of smoke that suddenly appeared in front of him, and therefore MAY not have seen the approaching pothole that he fatally swerved to avoid.”

    We can go further and say it’s the current austerity campaign in local and federal governments that is responsible for the deterioration of infrastructure that caused the potholes…

  65. Spouse of a JHFIRE/EMS Member September 11, 2012 4:42 pm

    I appreciate those that have remember to the thank the Fire Fighters not only our local FIRE/EMS members put those Wildland Fire Fighters that have come here to help. But the facts are the facts someone choice to burn when there was BURN BAN in place. JH FIRE/EMS lost a truck fighting this fire …thank god that no one was injured. These men lay there lives on the line daily to serve this community.. We their families are grateful for their service but give up a lot for them to serve you! Please remember that when you chose not obey the law.. and if you don’t know if there is a burn ban please pick up the phone and call someone who will know. And when a Fireman comes to your house to tell you to put out the fire you have in your back yard please give him the respect he deserves and put it out!!

  66. Chad September 11, 2012 4:45 pm

    No accountability to the potential for destruction Mark? Fuzzy logic. Should we only prosecute fatal or destructive instances of DUI, but otherwise let people drive drunk? What about preemptive wars based on potential threat (bush doctrine)?

  67. mark September 11, 2012 5:17 pm

    Fuzzy logic, Chad? How so? You want to be charged for something that didn’t happen?

    Driving drunk is a crime, but you cannot charge a drunk driver with vehicular homicide unless he kills someone. If that’s fuzzy, so be it.

  68. mark September 11, 2012 5:33 pm

    By no means am I excusing what this guy did. In short, what he did was plain ignorant. Absolutely he should face the consequences, but we have to stick to the facts and not the “could haves”.

    And a super big shout out to all of the fire fighters from everywhere, especially our home town fire fighters!!!

  69. gm September 11, 2012 5:56 pm

    I have a question for everyone who is on a “witch hunt” or requesting a lynch mob for the Anderson family. Have ANY of you smoked a cigarette or anything else outside of an enclosed vehicle or their home this summer? Have any of you gone camping and had a fire to heat the coffee this summer? Anyone of the fine residents of Teton County could have been responsable for this fire by doing just 1 of those things. The Andersons are great people who have lived in Jackson for a lot longer than the majority of the people commenting on this blog. Accidents happen to everyone.

  70. JR September 11, 2012 7:50 pm

    I am deeply saddened by some of the voices speaking on this website! Having grown up in this town I have seen first hand the kind of people that live here and this is not them! Please people! Where is the Jackson that dosen’t place blame and voice violence to an accident? Where are the people who still love their neighbor and help them through things? Those are the kinds of people of Jackson! Those are the kinds of people we should be! I know that this ACCIDENT has caused a lot of fear, grief, and disappointment! Please remember that whomever did this also feels those things and has to for the rest of their life! This may be forgotten in the future for some people, but it won’t be for the person or persons who are going to have to face this when it’s all said and done. It wasn’t ARSON it was an ACCIDENT!! Unintentional for forever tatooed! Please people, be those wonderful people of Jackson we all know and love and feel why it’s just another reason why we live here!

  71. Katelyn September 11, 2012 8:33 pm

    Gratitude is the best attitude. Thank you to all the individuals that are risking their lives to save our town.

  72. slim September 11, 2012 9:47 pm

    Public servants have different responsibilities than journalists and bloggers. When the potential of litigation exists, due process is more important than breaking news, and all citizens deserve the presumption of innocence until proved otherwise. Firefighters are doing an amazing job and we should all be thankful that so far the damage has been limited.

  73. The Dude September 11, 2012 10:20 pm

    To all who have commented….
    If any of you know anybody who has used a “non metal ring” at a dispurse camp ground for an evening camp fire is guilty of breaking the law and has no ground to stand on. Who hasn’t?

    And what if he simply stained his deck and put the linn seed oil soaked rag on a garbage can?
    Common mistake…yet not so common is the knowledge that a bunch of linn seed rags can spontanious combust…

    Just be thankful!!!!
    And forgiving

  74. MAKEHIMPAY September 12, 2012 9:36 am

    The family should have to pay in full for the cost of the fire. In a town with a gestapo police force who puts you in jail when you WALK home from the bar at night needs to inforce the same tactics on the Anderson family. I know if I started this fire I would already be in jail.

  75. Jackson Native 64 September 12, 2012 10:04 am

    To ‘The Dude’ #73: I’m still looking at the photo of where the fire started and going with the staining project/ combustable rags theroy. For the simple fact that people are not careful with the rags when a project is done. Could have been general Labor that was hired or kids that were looking for something to do to make a quick buck and nobody told them how to dispose of the rags. Hot sunny day, Rags in can caught fire/burn, can got hot and started grass on fire. It can happen…
    I also remember summers here with high heat and a haystack would just blow up with what we called a full blown “haystack fire”. Those were quite a sight when it would just explode into the fire. Then the newspaper would report that a glass bottle was left on the stack. Who knew? When the storage units went up in flames, it was quite a sight. Caused by linn seed oil rags not being dispoaed of properly. A mistake was made by someone, in this case not necessarily by Jim Anderson. Yes, let’s all back off with the nastyness and learn from this. We need to hope that the firefighters stay safe and keep steering the fire away from town.
    A few times while hiking Cache Creek area, we have come upon a camp fire that was not totally out. Still smoldering…who’s responsible for that when nobody was around? We finished putting it out.
    Who gives a crap what Jim’s political ties are..I don’t.

  76. Carl September 12, 2012 10:34 am

    Jim Anderson aint got to listen to no sissy government officials telling us freedom lovers when and where we can burn junk! Besides, free market will take care of that fire lickety split if the socialists ‘fighting’ the fire would just step aside and let Adam Smith’s rules take over.

    Also, Jim’s 76 years here grants him exemptions if not wisdom.

  77. Bart Monson September 12, 2012 10:42 am

    If you have the chart that shows the length of time a resident has lived in this valley and their corresponding responsibility for breaking the law, please post it.

  78. Kate September 12, 2012 10:50 am

    I’m BEYOND disappointed at this “cat fight” between so called “jacksonites” on this website. As a third generation local, the one thing I’ve always said about Jackson is it’s sense of COMMUNITY! You are acting like anything but that. All of you should be ashamed of yourselves for the comments and disheartening remarks above. This is not about politics, media responsibility or the cause of blame… This should be about showing our neighbors how we come together in the time need. You all make me sad.
    Thank you firefighters for putting your life on the line to save our home.

  79. brice September 12, 2012 1:56 pm

    I had the opportunity to meet Jim Anderson a couple of years back. He and I talked at nearly every Jr. High School football game and practice. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I know the man, but I would go on the record as saying that there is probably not anyone feeling worse about this than Jim.

    Besides being the guy who presumably started this fire, Jim is also a father, grand father, a veteran and a lot of other things including being a human being.

    He screwed up. He knows that.

    My hope is that nobody else in the valley has a screw up like this or even resembling this. If you do, and you’ve been bad mouthing Mr. Anderson…. I’d hope that Mr. Anderson would be the first in line behind me to point out your screw up, let you know that he is holding you accountable, then be the first guy to offer you a bit of support.

  80. WasBurningTrash September 12, 2012 2:52 pm

    Jim was burning trash in a barrel at 6am. Thought he put the fire out. Looked out the window after lunch and it was too late… He made a mistake. He’s sick about it. He’s owned up to the marshall, etc. So let the system do it’s job, let’s put out the fire, and be thankful that the wind didn’t blow this right over the town. Now we have a nice firebreak on the south side of town!

  81. Wyomingite September 12, 2012 6:01 pm

    My lord you guys. No wonder the rest of Wyoming hates Jackson. All you finger-pointing a-holes are making your community look even worse.

  82. Wyomingite September 12, 2012 6:02 pm

    Ps. What Kate said. If there were more people like her in your world, it wouldn’t suck.

  83. Jazz September 12, 2012 9:48 pm

    Nothing will change what has happened. We deal with it and move on. At times the lack of civility on these internet groups is palpable. Nobody knows what goes on in the mind of someone else – we project much too often and lose sight of the fact that we are all flawed human beings capable of making horrendous mistakes with serious consequences. Unfortunately for Mr. Anderson, this turned out to be the worst mistake of his entire life – and don’t think for a minute that he isn’t suffering. This isn’t a time for criticizing his political views or saying unkind things about him. We must attempt to put ourselves in his position – what would we do? What is there to say that will change what has happened? We can’t turn back the clock – we move on from here. To further persecute Mr. Anderson in this public forum does nothing to help the situation. Let the authorities deal with this rather than attempt to be judge and jury. I, for one, wouldn’t want to be in Mr. Anderson’s position. If we want to blame a person’s political views on everything that happens in America, then blame President Obama – he seems to be blamed for everything negative that happens in the world, so just as well pin this on him as well. Hell, there would be more fire fighters available to fight this fire if Obama hadn’t set so many other fires throughout not only Wyoming, but other surrounding states as well. Or maybe it’s really Romney who is behind this. I’m being sarcastic – but you get the message. Mr. Anderson isn’t a bad person – but he will reap the consequences of his unlawful actions – there has been a fire ban since July – and surely he knew that. He made a bad decision to ignore the ban. Obviously it wasn’t his intention for something like this to happen – a mistake of major proportions that can’t be undone. By the time this fire is controlled, there will be a multi-million dollar price tag to cover all expenses. No doubt there will be severe consequences for the Anderson family.

    If we continue to be as fortunate as we have up to this point, there will be no structures or lives lost. These professional fire fighters are well organized and doing a tremendous job – for our safety. Let’s not lose track of what really matters here – and that is that thus far we are all safe, no structures have been lost, and hopefully this will continue.

    We each hide behind our computers and some think it gives them license to be as rude and insulting to others as possible. Aren’t we all better than that? Or are some of us like little children who have never matured and haven’t moved beyond the bullying stage? Way past time for all adults here to indulge in some civility toward our fellow human beings. Mr. Anderson is a senior citizen whose life is never going to be the same – this could very well be the end of him. I feel sadness and compassion for Jim. Let’s all attempt to be more mindful of our words – words can, and do, hurt others. There isn’t one among us who is perfect – we just haven’t been caught doing something this life changing. This comes to you from your friendly, compassionate, kind, and loving progressive liberal atheist.

  84. mlocal September 12, 2012 10:30 pm

    This needs to stop. Yes there has been a great deal of damage, but when it comes down to it no homes burned down and no lives were lost its just going to cost a lot of money, which he will have to pay for not anyone else. Accidents happen and I can tell you that the man responsible for this has already been punished enough by his own personal guilt. Do not use this mistake to take you anger out on Jay Anderson it is not the time nor the place. Have some maturity and count and you blessings because things could have been far worse.

  85. Yoda September 12, 2012 10:58 pm

    “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

  86. Carl September 13, 2012 7:48 am

    I just put myself in Mr. Anderson shoes. Then I ran to my financial advisor and started moving money to my heirs an in to untouchable accounts.

    JK…I did this Monday.

  87. Cori September 13, 2012 8:26 am

    I would called 911 the second it happened.

  88. Common sense September 13, 2012 9:41 am

    I guess accident and act of God aren’t even in consideration for this fire— nor is a legal system in place that would satisfy the blood lust here—- Remember all you bunny huggers the forest likes fire- this is a GOOD thing ;-)

    This fire was set by a bic lighter- shall we outlaw lighters too? Or just regulate the hell out of them and tax them out of business?

  89. Mellisa September 13, 2012 10:33 am

    I think people need to take responsibility for their actions. If he pays, then I am content. Although from previous posts it sounds a little like karma coming back to get him.

  90. Brad September 13, 2012 11:01 am

    Jazz @83 — I don’t think anyone has put it better than you. Thanks. And I am thankful for the firefighters and that there were no lives lost, injuries and no property damage other than the 3,000 or so acres of damaged forest, which will recover. We can be sure that Mr. Anderson is suffering and will atone.

  91. Chad September 13, 2012 11:28 am

    Dear Common sense,

    Nice gun euphemism. Only problem is that fire and firearms are on different ends of the ‘help humanity’ spectrum. Also, Smith and Wesson’s share price has tripled in a year, while Ruger is also pricing exceptionally high. Not traits of industries about to go out of business. Furthermore, even after a rash of shootings this summer, Americans are polling at ‘we’re good with current laws’. All this being said, I firmly support legal firearm ownership. I just despise the abandonment of logic.

    As for accidents and acts of god…of course this is an accident. Unfortunately, it was made possible by a combination of ignorance and disregard for the law. Most famous accidents get their start this way.

    Finally, as for God…perhaps we forego fire fighting and just pray the fire away? After all, he started it.

  92. Rob Weinstein September 13, 2012 11:37 am

    I like how all the responses to the people calling for Jim’s head follow the same script:

    1.You people suck

    2.I’ve lived here for blah blah blah generations more than you have, therefore I have the forgiving power of Jesus Christ/The TOJ and you do not.

    3.You people make me sick.

  93. Levi September 13, 2012 12:41 pm

    So, if someone just moved here, we should prosecute them under all laws, but if someone is an “old-timer” we should cut them some slack? Doesn’t make since. Shouldn’t the “old-timers” be aware of things like fire bans and fire danger ratings more so then someone new to town? Yes, it was obviously an accident, but its the consequences that cause people to be a little more careful next time. I agree that not all the facts are in, and it may turn out to be some malicious “new-comer” trying to frame an “old-timer.” But, the idea that “old-timers” dont have to follow the same rules as everyone else is absolutely ridiculous.

  94. Effindorfer September 13, 2012 3:49 pm

    Karma’s a funny thing…….need not say no more.

  95. Kelley Moore September 13, 2012 4:29 pm

    “It was an accident. It could have happened to any one of you! ” Yes, any one of us illegally burning trash in our yard that morning could have started this fire.

    “He feels just awful”…. so says every criminal who has ever been caught in the history of humanity.

    Why are people apologizing for this man? He should just be thankful this isn’t California, where the law punishes fire starters with the seriousness that the crime deserves. Here, it’s only a misdemeanor. Is he really going to pay millions of dollars back to the government voluntarily? DC10 flight hours aren’t cheap.

    I see nothing wrong with this blog. It let’s the community vent in a nonviolent manner. I know that I’m angry. Let’s face it, enduring this blog will likely be the most serious punishment JA will receive, and he doesn’t even have to read it.

  96. Roger Hammerstein September 13, 2012 6:00 pm

    I also can not believe the people who are apologizing for this guy. Particularly considering his feelings about the government. The government that just saved him from a much bigger bill for the TOJ burning. Feeling bad about something doesn’t remove culpability. If it did our jails would have many fewer non-violent drug offenders in them. The people apologizing for this guy make me want to scream 2 tier justice system in their faces. If you are white and rich you get away with just an apology, but if this was a Latino dude working for a landscaping contractor we know what would happen. This kind of behavior is unamerican. ’nuff said.

  97. Jim Stanford September 13, 2012 6:58 pm

    I sometimes use the word “old-timer” as a nicer way of saying “old person,” not necessarily with any connection to the length of time a person has lived in this community. And by “cut some slack,” I meant in a general sense, for the purpose of this discussion. Again, I did not mean to imply that the person who started the fire should get off without punishment.
    When I spoke to the police chief, he said in an instance where someone violates a fire ban, the county attorney usually weighs the level of recklessness before deciding which charges to bring. So it’s possible a person could face additional charges beyond the misdemeanor.
    An eyewitness who had to evacuate immediately gave the following account:

    We all make mistakes for sure, but this one could have had deadly consequences. I was at my office working, walked outside at 2:50 and saw the fire. Called 911 (who’d already heard about it), what really got me was there were three girls that had been hiking and were now running down canyon in full sprint, had they been further up the canyon they’d have been in a lot of danger. Talking with them, I believe they might have been the first to call 911. They were certainly freaked out.

    For anyone who missed it, the same information I reported in this story appeared on the front page of yesterday’s News&Guide, along with a similar photo of the backyard: The News&Guide went as far as to point out the charred barrel visible in the photo.
    Also, the evacuation advisory for east Jackson has just been lifted:

  98. KSCHOPP September 13, 2012 7:46 pm

    Unfortunately, I have met Mr. Anderson several times. He has treated our entire office poorly. Maybe it’s time for him to change his ways and realize that the whole town is “visibly distraught”.
    Thanks to all the firefighters! We appreciate you!

  99. MaryBeth September 14, 2012 5:35 am

    Thankyou to Jackson and the amazing emergency response team! What they accomplished this week is by far some of the most amazing work I have ever witnessed! They have stepped up and protected our community! Now as community members we need to step up!
    Jackson has always been bound by a strong community! As community members we need to help our neighbors, have compassion and empathy, accept and forgive mistakes, and give to those in need! When we do this we will become a community!
    I am pretty sure we have all made mistakes, some had consequences but most don’t! Most of us never had to witness a consequence as severe as this fire!
    Perhaps if we spent less time judging and pointing fingers we could be helping our community and someone in need! Our community emergency response team stepped up and did the job! As community members lets do ours!

  100. Sanchez September 14, 2012 6:49 am

    “He should be glad this isn’t California”…. we’re all glad this isn’t California.

    KSCHOPP…where’s your office? Let us all come in and see how the service is, then we can reevaluate your presumption of Anderson.

  101. Karma September 14, 2012 3:43 pm

    How many of you finger-pointers have ever flicked a cigarette out of your car window or out towards the edge of your property? Maybe not recently, maybe in years past? Or how many of you have ever left a campfire smoldering while you went on a hike? What about discharging fireworks during fire band “because sparklers or fountains are harmless?” How many of you have gone out to sight in your guns and have done so with dry grass in the background? I have personally seen plenty of all these things this summer when I have been camping and hiking with my family. If you have done any of these things and DIDN’T cause a fire, you were LUCKY. Nothing more, nothing less.
    I sincerely hope that when you make your mistake, and face it-EVERYONE MAKES MISTAKES, I hope that you aren’t treated the way you are treating Mr. Anderson. I hope you are shown more compassion than you are showing. How about this; Mr. Anderson is a father. A grandfather. What if this happened to your father or grandfather? How would you feel of these things were said about your family? Think about that. There is nothing you can say that he hasn’t thought. Have a heart people! He will pay in more ways than you think.

  102. jake September 14, 2012 5:56 pm

    “Update 3:10 p.m.: Flames have begun to crest Snow King again up Cache Creek, closer to town than last night, but a slurry bomber just doused the ridge with retardant. The battle rages over east Jackson.”
    Jim- you should know better. The politically correct term for “retardent” is “special liquid.”

  103. M September 14, 2012 7:58 pm

    The political views of Mr. Anderson are interesting and add more debate to this discussion. But the fact of the matter is.. he broke the law. When you break the law you pay the consequences. His mistake has cost over 2.8 million dollars — a measly fine will not be enough!
    It astonishes me that all of you are so willing to forgive so quickly. THIS IS A HUGE DEAL. Like it’s been said the person who had 3 beers and get’s pulled over for rolling through a stop sign then breathalyzed will face over $10k in fines and possible jail time. Why? Because he BROKE THE LAW. It doesn’t matter that he’s an older man, that’s he’s a local, that he’s a tea party supporter, etc etc. He broke the law; pay the consequences. And the consequences need to be a lot more than a fine when your mistake cost 2.8 million dollars and counting. Everyone makes mistakes, that’s true, but when it’s a mistake this worldly, you need to pay; simple as that.
    Plus according to Mr. Anderson’s political views if it was run his way, the fire would have burned Jackson to the ground, and he would have been responsible for putting out the fire himself! I will not feel sorry for this man and his catastrophic mistake!

  104. Mike Bishop September 14, 2012 10:22 pm

    Let me get this straight: A leader of the Tea Party is too cheap to pay to have his garbage removed, so he ignores common sense, the well-being of the community and the local laws during the driest summer since 1988 and burns his trash in his backyard, causing a fire that threatens all of town. The government, that he has spent his political career opposing, then steps in and saves the day, with a cost to taxpayers in the $$$ millions. The Tea Party Memorial Fire, and it isn’t over yet. I disagree with those who are standing up for him: this is not just an accident. This was caused by stupidity and negligence. It didn’t just happen to anybody and it wouldn’t have just happened to anybody.

  105. Crusty Monkey September 18, 2012 8:06 pm

    Many comments state ” no lives lost “. Clarification: ” no human lives lost “!

  106. Brad September 25, 2012 6:22 pm

    Is there documentation of any charred animal remains found, Crusty?

  107. K B & diane October 1, 2012 10:41 am


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