As the State Turns: Special Report

Sadie Renee Johnson, the woman responsible for setting a large wildfire earlier this year, was sentenced yesterday to 18 months in prison and 200 hours of community service. The fire itself was lit by way of a small firework tossed from a car window.

Smokey doing his thing

Smokey doing his thing

See that? Smokey the Bear ain’t been joking about that sh*t.

It was pointed out time and again over the last handful of months that Johnson had stated “Like my fire?” on Facebook and suggested that she lit it because her firefighter friends were bored. This, coupled with the firework fuse for the whole thing, makes it pretty obvious that this was just a stupid act by a stupid 23 year old. At least there’s that, right? I’ve done a few things that made me want to throw up a nervous stomach later, all because I didn’t know any better.

Granted, none of it resulted in 80 square miles of scorched earth and $8 million in lost funds trying to put the damn thing out… what can I say, Florida is really wet.

Throughout the trial Johnson’s history of substance abuse issues were cited (and who hasn’t blamed a good fire on intoxication?), culminating in an additional demand that after leaving prison she attend 180 days of a drug and alcohol treatment program. This was followed by Judge Marco Hernadez letting her know that he’s got his “eye” on her. Because that threat surely resonates with someone facing prison for the first time, based on a crime of stupidity and negligence. Also, I seriously doubt the taxpayers are willing to front the kind of overtime that Hernandez would require in order to watch her all the time. Also, that’s illegal.

Regardless of motivations, when all is said and done, the damage was huge and very real. The judge made sure to levy a sentence that would work to bring awareness of this to others around the state.

When contacted for post-trial commentary, Smokey the Bear had this to say “Only YOU can prevent forest fires. Because squirrels are crap at it, and I don’t have opposable thumbs.”

By Johnny Beaver