Bozeman man charged with arson in house fire

Posted at 10:40 AM, Apr 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-27 12:40:15-04

BOZEMAN – A Bozeman man is behind bars after being charged with arson in connection with a house fire on Thursday.

Richard Bruce Ferrie, 71, is scheduled to appear in Gallatin County Justice Court on Friday, April 27.

According to charging documents, Ferrie was reportedly seen by neighbors driving down the driveway of his home extremely quickly at approximately 3:46 a.m. on Thursday, April 26. The neighbor also reported that smoke was billowing from the house. According to the neighbor, Ferrie had sold the house the day prior, which made them believe it was a deliberate act.

Ferrie was seen driving south on 19th Ave and was stopped by law enforcement. When told that his residence was reportedly on fire, Ferrie reportedly seemed surprised, but not concerned. Sgt. Schnelbach, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, who stopped Ferrie reportedly could smell the distinct odor of structure fire smoke on Ferrie. As a volunteer firefighter, Schnelbach reported in the charging documents the odor of a structure fire is very distinct and smells very different from any other type of smoke that he has smelled, such as campfire or cigarette smoke.

During an interview with investigators, Ferrie said he was in the process of moving out of the home at 319 Red Fox Lane, as he was selling the house. He also informed investigators that the mortgage on the home was in default and he had not made payments on either of his two mortgages in a couple of years. Ferrie reportedly told the investigator he was supposed to go to the title company at 9 a.m. that day to close on the sale of the residence.

Ferrie said he had been at the house the previous day into the night, moving items with the help of some friends. He said he had watched some television after his friends had left until approximately midnight when he decided to take a nap. He then woke up and decided to go to his apartment in Bozeman to sleep which is when he was pulled over.

Ferrie also told the investigator about a heater in the downstairs bathroom that he was having issues with, and wanted an electrician to come look at it. Ferrie said he thought he had turned the heater off.

During the interview, Ferrie was reportedly very calm and didn’t seem to be too upset that his residence had caught fire.

Investigators then learned that Ferrie’s neighbors had surveillance cameras that showed Ferrie’s house. Camera footage reportedly showed smoke coming from the residence before Ferrie’s vehicle left the area. Court papers say Ferrie was stopped 5 minutes after the initial 911 call.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.