WENATCHEE — Authorities believe a Malaga man intentionally set the 3,000-acre Colockum Fire to avoid arrest for a dispute with his landlord.
Wade Ryan Hawkins, 29, has been jailed since Friday and faces a possible charge of arson in the blaze, which broke out July 24 near the intersection of Colockum and Kingsbury Road. It scorched about 2,967 acres and forced numerous evacuations.
Chelan County sheriff’s deputies say on the day of the fire, they were called to the area of Colockum Road on a report that Hawkins was trespassing on his landlord’s property during an eviction dispute. But while they were on their way, the Colockum Fire erupted near the intersection with Kingsbury Road, not far from the site of Hawkins’ rented trailer.
Deputies say eyewitnesses put Hawkins in the area at the time, and say he may have set the fire as a distraction. Hawkins’ girlfriend, Kristen Bree Horner, 29, also faces charges in the matter.
After leaving his home while his landlord called police, Hawkins allegedly traveled up the rugged Kingsbury Road to reach Wenatchee — a longer route than by Colockum Road. He sent a text to his landlord while en route, deputies said, apparently sending it from near the site where the fire started.
Police pulled Hawkins and Horner over in Wenatchee shortly after 5 p.m. July 24, about three hours after the fire was reported and almost three and a half hours after his dispute with his landlord. His truck was seized, and deputies later allegedly found a butane torch and a small amount of heroin inside.
Fire investigators determined the Colockum Fire was likely human-caused. In interviews with deputies, Hawkins denied setting the fire. He has not been criminally charged.