GREAT FALLS — Three young men are facing criminal charges for allegedly causing the Gibson Flats Fire that destroyed 11 homes and dozens of other structures just outside of Great Falls last week.
The suspects are Brandon Cordell Bennett, Jr. 18 years old; Jevin James Mclean, 19; and Galvinn Coates Munson, 19.
The fire on Wednesday, December 1st, destroyed at least 11 homes, 11 garages, numerous outbuildings, and several cars in the neighborhood that adjoins the southeast side of Great Falls. There were no serious injuries reported.
The fire started in a field at around 2:45 a.m. and was whipped by powerful winds with gusts of more than 50 mph. Great Falls Fire Rescue estimated that the fire burned about 120 acres.
At this point, Bennett has been charged with arson and tampering with/fabricating evidence. McLean has been charged with arson. Munson has been charged with arson and criminal mischief.
Cascade County Sheriff Jesse Slaughter hosted a news conference on Wednesday afternoon; he began by showing aerial (drone) video of the Gibson Flats area, highlighting the extent of the damage.
Slaughter said that the three suspects were driving around, smoking marijuana, and shooting off fireworks from a car. Eventually, they stopped, got out, and set two fires.
We will update you as we get more information.