A motion regarding the sufficiency of evidence is expected to be filed in the case of a man accused of starting a wildfire in Three Lakes last spring.
Jason Loppnow, 39, made an appearance in Oneida County Circuit Court Friday in front of Vilas County Judge Neal Nielsen, who was recently assigned the case after Loppnow requested a new judge last month. Loppnow is facing a felony charge of intentionally setting fire to another's land in connection with a wildfire that occurred April 6 on his parents' Oneida Farms Road property.
On that day, Department of Natural Resources officials spotted the fire from a tower and responded along with the Three Lakes Volunteer Fire Department. Firefighters worked for about three hours to completely suppress the fire which didn't result in any injuries or damage to structures.
According to previous testimony from Loppnow's parents at a preliminary hearing, his setting of the fire was part of a controlled burn to reduce the amount of overgrown weeds on the property.
A woman who allegedly saw Loppnow set the fire has testified otherwise.
According to the woman's testimony and the filed criminal complaint, she was with Loppnow when he used a lighter to set fire to grass in an area of the property that investigators suspected was the wildfire's origin. The woman said she immediately dumped a glass of water on the fire, and stomped it out. After that, she returned to a mobile home on the property where Loppnow lived, but said he didn't come back immediately. She told DNR officials that the first fire may not have been fully extinguished, or Loppnow may have set another one. When Loppnow returned to the trailer, he went to sleep.
Before setting the fire, the woman said Loppnow was acting strangely. She reported that he said life wasn't worth it and that he was sick of everybody around him. Loppnow talked about setting all of the buildings on the property - the mobile home, his parents' residence, and two sheds - on fire.
The charge of intentionally setting fire to another's land is a class H felony punishable by up to six years in prison.
Loppnow also has three other open cases in Oneida County Circuit Court involving misdemeanor charges including disorderly conduct, battery, bail jumping, possessing an illegally obtained prescription, operating while intoxicated, possession of drug paraphernalia and theft. Those are scheduled for a status conference on Nov. 2. A motion hearing on the wildfire accusation is set for Nov. 29.
Kyle Rogers may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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