As firefighters continue to battle the Wallow fire in eastern Arizona, the starter of half of the monstrous 2002 Rodeo-Chedeski fire is scheduled to be released from prison tomorrow.
Leonard Gregg, an Apache who lived in Cibecue, admitted he'd started two fires -- Rodeo and Pine. The former wildland firefighter did it for the money; he'd hoped to work on the conflagrations.
Valinda Jo Elliot, who started the Chediski fire to signal a helicopter while "lost" in the high country, never was charged.
The Rodeo and Chediski fires eventually merged, becoming the largest wildfires in Arizona history -- until that grim record was surpassed this week by the Wallow fire.
Both Elliot and Gregg were sued for their roles in the fires. Gregg was ordered to pay $27.9 million in restitution, which he'll obviously never be able to do. The civil case against Elliott was stalled over issues of jurisdiction.
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Gregg, who was 29 when he was indicted, reportedly suffers from brain damage from his mother's alcohol abuse.
Because he supposedly was "fascinated by wildfires" as a kid and grew up to be one of the state's most notorious firebugs, we're wondering if his release can't be stalled a few weeks, until after the coming of monsoon rains and the end of fire season.