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Two men accused of starting the Cold Creek Fire face misdemeanor charges

Crime Watch

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AMERICAN FALLS — Two men have been charged with misdemeanors for allegedly starting last week’s Cold Creek Fire near American Falls.

Brandon Donato Frias, of Wyoming, and Lucas C. Daniels, of Blackfoot, were arrested June 14 after the fire started. In total the blaze scorched around 3,800 acres and destroyed two homes, according to an affidavit of probable cause. The fire was fully contained on June 15.

The two men now each face misdemeanor setting fire to wildland charges.

RELATED | Firefighters working to contain Cold Creek Fire as it grows to 2,500 acres

One of two homes -- three structures -- destroyed by fire on Sunbeam Road in American Falls
Kalama Hines,

Daniels, 19, was the first of numerous 911 callers who reported the fire, according to court documents. He and Frias, 22, were met by Power County Sheriff’s deputies near the intersection of Cold Creek Road and Wilske Road. Medical treatment was requested by deputies for Daniels, who reports show was struggling to breathe and continuously coughing.

While Daniels was receiving treatment, deputies discussed the situation with Frias, who said that the two had been driving in the area when Daniels said he wanted to learn how to weld.

Frias, who owns a welding business, pulled over in an area known by Daniels to provide welding lessons.

Frias fell asleep in his truck while Daniels was using the acetylene welder, Frias told deputies. He awoke to a fire. The two attempted to extinguish the fire, but when their attempts were unsuccessful, the two “hauled ass out of there” in order to save the truck and equipment, according to police reports.

The two men admitted to seeing a no fire zone sign before using the welder, Frias allegedly told deputies.

They were both taken into custody and are scheduled for pretrial hearings on July 20.