Man could face 364 days in jail, $10,000 fine for burning bees’ nest

CENTRALIA, Wash. (KIRO/CNN) – A story about Matthew Buchanan’s half-charred, bubblegum pink birdhouse is all the buzz, but he’s not amused.

A man who set fire to a bee nest hasn't been able to get prosecutors to drop reckless burning charges against him. (Source: KIRO/CNN)

"It turned into such a joke,” he said. "A lot of people's had a lot of fun with it, and now it's to the point where it's not funny anymore."

A $10 birdhouse could cost Matthew Buchanan $10,000 and 364 days in jail.

In June, Buchanan noticed bees had built a nest inside the birdhouse. The bees kept stinging his girlfriend, so he took matters into his own hands.

He tried spray, but that didn't work, so he took a different approach.

"I just put a paper towel in the entry hole and let it burn,” said Buchanan.

He said he kept a close eye on the fire and, a few minutes later, doused it with water. Later, he went to bed.

“It was around 10 p.m. and it was not smoldering, no smoke, no steam, nothing at all,” said Buchanan.

Around midnight, he woke up to first responders surrounding his home. A neighbor had spotted the flames and called 911.

Documents from the Lewis County Sheriff's Office show deputies cited Buchanan with reckless burning in the second degree.

“It’s a charge that’s one step below a felony,” he said. “I’m 42 years old. I’ve never had anything at all on my record, and I don’t want this on my record."

Buchanan said an attorney to fight the charge will cost him $5,000.

He feels forced to take a diversion, which means six months of probation and a fire safety course, but he doesn't believe he did anything wrong.

Buchanan has already been to court four times for the issue. He is scheduled to make another appearance Wednesday.

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