Man Allegedly Set Propane Tanks on Fire on I-90 Near Frenchtown
At around 3:00 a.m. on Saturday, law enforcement officers responded to a report of a large fire on Interstate 90 near Frenchtown. When deputies arrived, they observed an active fire burning in the middle of both eastbound lanes and a large number of vehicles backed up in traffic. The fire consisted of several barbeque sized propane tanks stacked together with flames shooting out of them. The fire was approximately six feet tall by 15 feet wide.
One deputy observed a male, later identified as 34-year-old Andrew Waldbillig, standing near the fire. The deputy commanded Waldbillig to show his hands and Waldbillig immediately complied. He was taken into custody without further incident. Frenchtown Fire arrived on the scene a short time later and extinguished the propane tanks.
Waldbillig would not give a direct answer when he was asked why he started the fire. There was a small blue pickup truck on the shoulder of the road near the flaming items and Waldbillig confirmed that was his truck.
Deputies also observed patches of burned and melted roadway, as well as a chipped and damaged roadway surface. The Montana Department of Transportation was contacted and estimated the repair cost of the roadway to be in excess of $1500.
Waldbilling appeared in Missoula Justice Court Monday afternoon and Deputy County Attorney Brandon Zeak provided the following statement.
“At this time, the state’s position is that should the defendant be released, that standard conditions of release apply,” Zeak said. “But if he is to be released, we ask that he be released to pretrial supervision only, that he has no access to anything that is flammable in nature, which would include anything in the nature of propane tanks or incendiary devices, like matches, lighters, torches, etcetera. The state is also in the position that bail be set in the amount of $50,000 in this case.”
Judge Alex Beal agreed with the state and set bond in the amount of $50,000. Beal said he would have been greatly concerned if Waldbilling had been released from jail on Monday.
Waldbilling was charged with two counts of felony criminal endangerment and one count of felony arson.