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Man who started Robertson Draw fire sentenced to 10 years in prison

Robertson Draw Fire south of Red Lodge
Posted at 7:16 PM, Aug 17, 2022

A Bridger man who started the Robertson Draw fire near Red Lodge was sentenced to 10 years in state prison, according to a law enforcement source in Carbon County.

John Lightburn, 55, was sentenced Wednesday. The charges weren't immediately available.

The Robertson Draw fire -- which started last June -- burned more than 30,000 acres and was Montana's largest human-caused wildfire of the 2021 season.

According to court documents, Lightburn was riding his dirt bike on a trail at the base of the mountains when the engine flooded. He spilled gasoline – which authorities say ignited when Lightburn tested the spark plug.

Investigators say Lightburn did not try to extinguish the fire, which nearly trapped one law enforcement officer who responded to the scene.

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John Lightburn