At around 3 a.m. on Saturday, law enforcement responded to a report of a large fire on Interstate 90 near Frenchtown. When MPs arrived, they observed an active fire burning in the middle of the two eastbound lanes and a large number of vehicles backed up in traffic. The fire consisted of several barbecue-sized propane tanks stacked with flames erupting from them. The fire was about six feet high by 15 feet wide.
A deputy observed a man, later identified as Andrew Waldbillig, 34, standing by the fire. The deputy ordered Waldbillig to show his hands and Waldbillig immediately complied. He was taken into custody without further incident. Frenchtown Fire arrived at the scene shortly after and extinguished the propane tanks.
Waldbillig did not give a straightforward answer when asked why he started the fire. There was a small blue van on the shoulder of the road near the burning objects and Waldbillig confirmed that it was his truck.
MEPs also observed burnt and melted pavement slabs, as well as a chipped and damaged pavement surface. The Montana Department of Transportation has been contacted and estimated the cost of repairing the pavement to be over $ 1,500.
Waldbilling appeared in Missoula courthouse on Monday afternoon and Deputy County District Attorney Brandon Zeak made the following statement.
“Right now, the state’s position is that if the defendant is released, the standard release conditions apply,” Zeak said. “But if he is to be released, we ask that he be put back under surveillance only before the trial, that he does not have access to anything of a flammable nature, which would include anything of the nature of propane tanks.” or incendiary devices, such as matches, lighters, torches, etc. The state is also in a position to post a bond of $ 50,000 in this case. “
Judge Alex Beal agreed with the state and set a bond in the amount of $ 50,000. Beal said he would have been very concerned if Waldbilling had been released from prison on Monday.
Waldbilling was charged with two counts of criminal endangerment and one count of arson.
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