HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A man confessed to starting a 15-acre brush fire in Spring Hill on Wednesday night, the sheriff’s office said.
Deputies said they were at the Sand Hill Scout Reservation in Spring Hill conducting agency training when a training deputy observed a plume of smoke off in the horizon.
A deputy went to the origin of the smoke and spotted a man, later identified as Marques Thomas, 29, standing near the brush fire. Thomas attempted to flee the area after he saw the deputy, the sheriff’s office said.
The deputy was able to chase down Thomas and take him into custody. The sheriff’s office said Thomas had a lighter in his possession.
Meanwhile, the Hernando County Fire and Emergency Services and the Florida Forest Service responded to the scene to help extinguish the brush fire. The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office also assisted by dumping water on the fire with its helicopter.
As of 9 p.m., fire officials said the brush fire had spread 15 acres and was about 50% contained.
Thomas, a transient, was transported to the Hernando County Detention Center where he later confessed to starting the brushfire, the sheriff’s office said.
Deputies said Thomas was charged with intentional or reckless burning of lands, felony criminal mischief, trespass, and resisting an officer without violence.
The sheriff’s office said Thomas has an extensive criminal history spanning over a decade in Pinellas County for home invasion robbery, theft and felony battery.