Suspected Minnesota Wildfire Arsonist Commits Suicide

An attorney for a Washington man accused of starting a wildfire that burned 118 square miles in Minnesota and Canada last year says his client has committed suicide.

Mark Larsen said Tuesday that a relative of Stephen Posniak told him the 64-year-old Posniak died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Posniak was charged with allowing his campfire to burn out of control in May 2007. The fire spread in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Superior National Forest in Minnesota and into Ontario, destroying nearly 150 buildings worth more than $10 million.

Larsen says they felt Posniak, who pleaded not guilty last month, was overcharged in the case. The Minneapolis attorney says he spoke to Posniak on Monday and he was "acute in his thinking and quite pleasant over the phone."