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Troopers make arrest in burglary of Alaska wildfire crews headquarters

Alaska Dispatch

Over the weekend, Wasilla resident James Lee III was arrested on multiple criminal charges in relation to the burglary of an Alaska Division of Forestry building that held the gear and personal effects of two wildfire fighting crews back in July.

According to the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, Alaska State Troopers arrested Lee on Sept. 8 at his home in Wasilla after tracking down goods stolen from the headquarters of the Gannet Glacier crew and the Pioneer Peak crew. After his arrest, Troopers say Lee admitted being involved in the robbery.

The Pioneer Peak crew had already arrived in Utah to assist with fires at the time of the rip-off, and the Gannet Glacier crew was preparing to join them. As a result of the thefts, the Gannet crew could not make the trip south. The Frontiersman reports AST investigator Brian Hibbs wrote that the burglary caused "the Gannet Glacier crew to be pulled form the national ready list" and caused the crew not to be "able to respond to wildland fires."

Lee was captured on surveillance cameras using a U-Haul to take chainsaws, computers, firefighter's "personal items" and two of the crew member's vehicles from Division of Forestry property.

According to the Frontiersman, he is charged with "burglary, theft, vehicle theft, fraudulent use of an access device attempted fraud, drug misconduct, weapons misconduct and possession of burglary tools. He was jailed at the Mat-Su Pre-Trial Facility on $25,000 bail and will need to find a third party to watch him before he can be released."

For more read the Frontiersman story, including signs that an accomplice of Lee's may be at large, here.