Boise man pleads guilty to starting massive Table Rock fire

Posted at 9:00 AM, Feb 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-22 19:58:11-05

19-year-old Taylor Kemp pleaded guilty a misdemeanor charge of unlawful use of fireworks Wednesday morning. Ada County code bans all fireworks in the Foothills and other areas that constitute a "severe fire threat" between June 1 and Oct. 31. 

Kemp was arrested months after the fire started, admitting to investigators he had been shooting off fireworks just before midnight when the fire started. Deputies also found one of Kemp's fingerprints on the Roman candle, prosecutors said.

Both the City of Boise and the Bureau of Land Management are seeking restitution for the firefighting costs, totaling an estimated $400,000. The judge set a status conference for March 20th to discuss restitution.

Meanwhile, the Table Rock landscape continues to heal. Boise parks and recreation workers are now fighting off non-native grass and along with volunteers planting Sage Brush Plants.  With the help of a $100,000 donation from the Friends of Zoo Boise, they say the rehabilitation will take years but is on the right track. 

"We have the opportunity to be working on this for the next few years we are doing what we can to establish wildlife habit and native plants on the table rock landscape," said Sara Arkle the foothills and open space superintendent for Boise Parks and Recreation.

Boise Parks and Rec. are urging the public to stay off muddy trails. After the fire, local fire chiefs pushed lawmakers to close a loophole that allows people to buy illegal aerial fireworks in Idaho. The bill, presented by Rep. Mat Erpelding during the 2017 Legislature, would have prohibited vendors from selling the kinds of fireworks already deemed illegal in Idaho. The bill did not pass.