Authorities arrest suspected arsonist following Mesquite brush fire

A brush fire threatens nearby power lines in Mesquite, Nevada, July 6, 2017 | Photo courtesy Mesquite Police Department, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A man was arrested on suspicion of arson relating to a large brush fire started near Hafen Park in Mesquite Thursday evening.

Thomas Bowler, 40, was arrested Thursday night on suspicion of arson after a large brush fire started in Mesquite, Nevada, July 6, 2017 | Photo courtesy Clark County Fire Department, St. George News

Thomas Bowler, 40, was arrested and booked into Clark County Correction Center on third-degree felony arson charges Friday night.

Bowler was previously arrested June 17 on multiple charges of arson for several fires in Bunkerville and was later released on bail, according to a news release issued by Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Buchanan of Clark County Fire Department.

A multiagency investigation helped lead to the arrest, including contributions from Clark County Fire Department rural division, Mesquite Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and Explosives, the Bureau of Land Management and Las Vegas Metro Police Department.

“This was a large multi-jurisdictional effort that required tremendous coordination and is an example of the support (and strong partnerships) shared among public safety agencies in Southern Nevada,” the news release states.

The arrest was made at the scene of the Mesquite fire prior to arrival of fire units.

Several agencies responded at approximately 5:50 p.m. Thursday.

“We had a big challenge with the heat. It was 118 degrees on the ambulance thermometer when I went out, so it was extremely hot,” Capt. John Gately of Mesquite Fire and Rescue said in an interview with St. George News.

Ten to 15 mph winds also pushed the flames toward nearby homes.

“We were able to stop everything before it got to the houses,” Gately said.

No structures were damaged, but the fire singed nearby power transmission lines just as firefighters reached them. Power was cut off to area customers as a precaution, but the power lines were mostly undamaged and operational Friday.

When it reached full containment as of 10 p.m. Thursday, the fire had burned through 13.4 acres.

Firefighters from the Bureau of Land Management were still in the area as of noon Friday clearing up hot spots.

At least 16 firefighters received rehabilitation care, and one required IV rehydration, though no one was hospitalized.

Exactly how the fire was started is still under an investigation now being headed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Mesquite Fire and Rescue, Beaver Dam/Littlefield Fire District, Clark County Fire Department rural division and the Bureau of Land Management assisted with the firefighting effort.

This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement and other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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