A man accused of lighting brush fires in the N.C. mountains told a federal forestry agent he’d done it because he wanted a little excitement.
“I guess I was just bored,” Keith Eugene Mann said when confronted about the fires, according to an affidavit from Brian Southard, a special agent for the U.S. Forest Service.
Southard said he was looking into two blazes in Macon County, in the far western corner of the state, that appeared to have been intentionally set. Investigators found wooden matchsticks near each fire, one that started on Oct. 27 and another on Nov. 22.
In all, about 16 acres were scorched in the fires.
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Southard said he learned that a suspicious pickup truck had been seen driving around the rural area about the time the second fire started. Southard also listened to a call placed to Macon County’s 911 center from a man identifying himself as Mann reporting the fire.
Southard went to Mann’s home in Franklin and sat down with him on the tailgate of the truck to talk about the fires. Mann initially denied having anything to do with the blazes, then he admitted to both, Southard said.
Mann said he had difficulty getting the first fire going and finally resorted to stacking up kitchen matches, then lighting them. He said he used the same method to start the second fire, then decided to call authorities because he got worried about the blaze.
Southard said Mann told him he “wanted to see something burn” and that his wife had recently left him so he didn’t have “much to live for.”
Mann, 49, is being held in the Buncombe County Jail without bond. He is charged with destroying property of the United States by fire and will have a federal detention hearing Monday.