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Two arrested on suspicion of arson for back fires

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Larry D. Smith

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Keith V. Strickland

— Two Twisp men have been arrested on suspicion of first-degree arson for allegedly starting a back fire on Benson Creek Road within the Carlton Complex fire area.

One was arrested nearly a month earlier on the same charge in a separate incident.

Larry D. Smith, 63, was arrested today and Keith V. Strickland, 60, was arrested yesterday and booked into the Okanogan County Jail, Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said.

Both are accused of starting a back burn at 234 Benson Creek Road that destroyed Forest Service and private property.

Owners of property in the area allegedly have photos of Smith lighting the fire, Rogers said. Strickland apparently was with Smith.

Smith was arrested July 18 on suspicion of first-degree arson for lighting a back burn fire near 190 Benson Creek Road.

“At that time, Smith was contacted and told by fire crews not to light the back burn because it was unsafe,” Rogers said.

Strickland was booked on two counts of first-degree arson for his alleged involvement with Smith in the second burn, and for allegedly lighting another fire on Finley Canyon Road at Konrad Road.

“Strickland was contacted by fire crews and asked not to start any fires because they were there to fight the one fire and put out trucks for structure protection,” Rogers said. “Fire crews stated that they watched Strickland light the fire.”

The cases are being investigated by the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office.

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