Burn boss’ reckless burning case dismissed in federal court

GRANT COUNTY – New information has come in regarding the case against a U.S. Forest Service burn boss, who was arrested on a reckless burning charge following an escaped controlled burn conducted by the Forest Service. A release issued by District Attorney Jim Carpenter in February states that, “On February 2, 2024, the case was presented to a grand jury for consideration. The grand jury returned an indictment against Ricky Snodgrass for Reckless Burning, ORS 164.335, a class A misdemeanor.”

Following an appeal, Snodgrass’ case was dismissed in Federal Court.

Sheriff Todd McKinley has issued a statement in response to the dismissal:

(Statement issued by Grant County Sheriff Todd McKinley)

Regarding the recent dismissal in Federal Court of the arrest of the Burn Boss at the Starr 6 uncontrolled burn in Grant County Oregon on October 19th 2022, I have the following to say: 

The United States Federal Government chose to use the “Supremacy Clause” as their basis for the request of dismissal. 

My interpretation of the use of this clause is such, that the State Law was sufficient for the charges, and the only way to circumvent this was to appeal to the Federal Court. 

I am saddened that our own Government, which was established, “of the People, by the People, for the People”, would [choose] to not “do the right thing” and make the damaged party whole, for fear of assuming responsibility for their actions. 

The hope out of all of this, is in the future, that more care will be taken, guidelines followed, and the United States Forest Service will heed their own motto: “Caring for the Land and Serving People”. 

Todd McKinley 



A press release from D.A. Carpenter states that, “On October 19, 2022, the Grant County Dispatch Center began receiving 911 calls reporting an out of control USFS prescribed burn near mile post 2 on the Izee Highway in Bear Valley, Grant County, Oregon.

Grant County Sheriff Todd McKinley responded to the scene and found that a USFS
prescribed burn had gotten out of control, crossed the Izee Highway, and was burning the private property of the Holliday Ranch.

Sheriff McKinley’s initial investigation led him to believe that he had probable cause to arrest the USFS fire boss, Rick Snodgrass for Reckless Burning. “A person commits the crime of reckless burning [a class A misdemeanor] if the person recklessly damages property of another by fire or explosion.” ORS 164.335. “Recklessly” means that a person is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists. ORS 161.085(9). The risk must be of such nature and degree that disregard there of constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.

Snodgrass was arrested and transported to the Grant County Jail, where he met release criteria and was conditionally released.

Find previous Elkhorn Media Group coverage on this case below: