Wannabe weatherman set Ky. fire to gain Facebook views


Associated Press

ATLANTA

A wannabe weatherman was jailed on an arson charge after admitting he started a wildfire to draw attention to his selfie videos on Facebook, his town’s police chief said Friday. Meanwhile, a Georgia sheriff appealed for help identifying the driver of a dark blue SUV last seen where other wildfires began. And in North Carolina, authorities suspect arson in more than 20 wildfires burning in a national forest.

“It’s really too bad because he’s not a bad kid – he’s just misguided,” said James Stephens, the police chief in Jenkins, Ky., where Johnny Mullins, 21, was arrested this week on a second-degree arson charge.

“He likes to do Facebook videos and have people follow him on his ‘weather forecast,’ so that’s pretty much why he did what he did,” the chief said. “He enjoyed the attention he got from the Facebook stuff.”

“He didn’t realize how much danger he was putting other people in,” Stephens added.

A teenager in Harlan County, Ky. also was arrested for arson this week, and in Tennessee, authorities said Friday that Andrew Scott Lewis was charged with setting fires and vandalism causing more than $250,000 in damage and threatening homes outside Chattanooga.

No arrests were announced in most of the rest of the suspicious fires, which have been torching forests in and around the southern Appalachian mountains. The relentless drought across much of the South has removed the usual humidity and sucked wells and streams dry, making the woods ripe for fire.

Dozens of residents of the northeast Georgia mountains have been told to evacuate their homes as a wildfire flared up nearby.

The Rabun County Sheriff’s Office said Friday evening that about 25 to 40 homes in the Persimmon community were affected.

Earlier Friday, a forest fire in western North Carolina forced evacuations in the Chimney Rock and Lake Lure communities.

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