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Man accused of starting July’s Bitterroot Dr. fire appears in court

The Pocatello man accused of starting the blaze that claimed one home by setting-off illegal fireworks, appeared remorseful in court on Tuesday afternoon for what was expected to be a speedy trial.

John Dale Woods learned both the judge and the prosecution agreed, despite his one charge of first-degree arson, he should not have to serve jail time since the incident was an accident.

Prosecuting attorney Steve Herzog called two witnesses to testify, both were first-responders to the July 13, 2017, incident after neighbors called police about someone setting-off illegal, aerial fireworks during a time Bannock County had a burn ban in place.

“He was sad, very sad and distraught,” Pocatello Police officer Akilah Lacey told the court. He said Woods approached him while he was collecting evidence and told him he wanted to talk about how sorry he was about setting off the fireworks.

After setting-off the fourth firework, Woods told Lacey he turned around to go inside and get a bucket of water, but when he came back out, the fire had grown.

Woods’ attorney tried asking the judge to dismiss the case since his intent was to never start the fire; however, the judge explained the intent to light-off fireworks was still present.

Herzog explained, now Woods’ case will be turned over to the District Court, where he will later be arraigned.

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