SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – A serial arsonist is in jail again facing another arson charge. He admitted to starting the fire early Thursday morning in Memory Grove in City Creek Canyon.
Firefighters knocked down the early morning fire after it consumed about a half acre of dry hillside grass. In fact, firefighters actually spotted it before anyone called 911. Firefighters were returning from a fire call on Ensign Peak when they say the smoke. Salt Lake City Fire Department spokesman Jasen Asay says "They saw it and quickly extinguished it. It didn't threaten any homes." However, it came close because homes are just across the street. Dave Iltis noticed the burned earth when he rode by on his bicycle. "That's not a good thing because there are houses around here and a lot of people use it for recreation."
Three hours after the fire was snuffed out firefighters learned who was responsible for the brief blaze. Wilbert Fike, Junior walked into a fire station and admitted he set the fire. Asay says "Our investigators brought him into the interrogation room and talked to him about it and they determined he was being truthful with his story." Fike was arrested and booked in jail.
Jail is a familiar place for Fike. He’s been there two times before for arson related crimes. Asay says "He was convicted of setting a similar fire a year ago in Memory Grove, pretty close to this morning's fire. He served a year in jail for that."
And before the 2011 conviction Fike was also convicted in 2010 of misdemeanor arson in for starting a fire, also in Memory Grove. Three fires in three years in the same place. Asay says "The last thing we need are intentional fires caused by humans to go along with everything else firefighters are dealing with."
Firefighters say that during Fike’s confession he set the fire because he wanted to go back to jail. He said the same thing back in 2010 when he pleaded guilty to an arson charge.