Attorney General’s Office secures guilty verdict for Lake County man responsible for Boulder 2700 fire

Attorney General’s Office secures guilty verdict for Lake County man responsible for Boulder 2700 fire

HELENA – A Lake County man was found guilty of two counts of arson, including one count for the Boulder 2700 fire that destroyed homes, damaged property, and forced evacuations in Lake County during the summer of 2021, Attorney General Austin Knudsen announced today.

On February 8, a Lake County jury found Craig Allen McCrea responsible for deliberately setting the Boulder 2700 fire near Finley Point in Lake County on July 31, 2021. As one of the most high-profile fires in the country at one point, the forest fire burned 2,589 acres of forest, destroyed 14 homes, 17 structures, and forced the evacuation of thousands of Lake County residents. McCrea is also responsible for starting the Finley Fire in Missoula County just north of Evaro Hill on July 25, 2021, which burned 18 acres.

“Arson cases are very difficult to prove, but with the help of detectives in the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and the Lake County Attorney’s Office, our prosecutors secured a guilty verdict,” Attorney General Knudsen said. “I’m proud of our team for working to get justice for the Montana families who suffered significant loss as a result of McCrea’s actions.”

McCrea is suspected of started a series of fires near Flathead Lake and was also charged with two other counts of arson for smaller fires around the same timeframe which resulted in a hung jury.  One witness, Crystal Kline, who was with McCrea at the time one of the fires was started stated that she thought the pair were going into the woods to get high and did not know that McCrea was going to start a fire. Evidence also suggests that Kline and McCrea travelled to Washington to purchase fentanyl during the same timeframe McCrea started the fires. He also pleaded guilty in October to an unrelated charge of criminal possession of dangerous drugs.

McCrea was designated a persistent felony offender prior to trial and therefore faces 100 years in Montana State Prison for each count rather than the usual maximum of 20 years. He may also be responsible for several million dollars in restitution and may be required to repay the cost incurred from fighting the fires.

Assistant Attorneys General Thorin Geist and Caitlin Creighton prosecuted the case with the assistance of Lake County Attorney James Lapotka. It was investigated by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.


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