On Tuesday, Stockton Police arrested Gary Carr for Reckless Burning and Reckless Endangerment.
Carr reportedly called 911 Saturday around 2:30 p.m. to report that his generator had caught fire and spread to nearby trees.
Despite efforts from first responders and firefighters on the scene, the fire grew quickly, becoming the Jacob City Fire and burning over 4,000 acres.
Upon investigation from Stockton Police, as well as fire investigators with the Utah Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the burn patterns and other physical evidence did not match up with Carr’s initial statements.
Stockton Police secured a search warrant to seize the trailer and generator, as well as conducted interviews with witnesses, firefighters first on the scene, and civilians driving by minutes later.
Upon being interviewed by Stockton Police and BLM Fire Investigators, Carr admitted that on Saturday afternoon, he plugged a circular saw into a recently purchased refurbished “like new” generator. The saw cord had reportedly been cut, then spliced and taped back together.
During use, the saw got extremely hot, so Car set it down on the back of the RV, which happened to be next to a sealed gas can. The investigators reported that outside temperatures were 103 degrees. Carr then plugged the RV into the generator and went inside.
About 10 minutes later, Carr reportedly heard a loud pop, followed by hissing noises.
Investigators say he ran outside to find the top of the generator on fire, as well as the surrounding trees. He attempted to put water on the generator fire, however, the gas from the exploded can accelerated the fire.
Police say Carr attempted to dig the fire out, and in his haste, tossed burning sage and embers under the RV, where another 5-gallon gas can was located.
The spreading of burning embers, along with the now heated gas can, caused the RV to also catch fire. Carr then called 911.
Due to his “negligent behavior,” Carr was arrested and charged with Reckless Burning and Reckless Endangerment. He was booked into Tooele County Jail without incident, and charges will be sent to the Tooele County attorney.
Police say members of the public need to be aware of current conditions while recreating on public lands.
Officials say the following precautions should be taken to prevent wildfires from occurring:
- Be mindful in general when recreating outdoors, especially during fire season.
- Use caution when operating equipment that can create heat or sparks. When using equipment outdoors, have on hand fire extinguishers, adequate water, and hand tools. These activities should be avoided during peak heat hours.
- Check equipment for faulty wiring or damage before use, as this has the potential to short-circuit.
- Do not place recently used tools or equipment next to fuel sources or dry vegetation. The heat from the equipment can easily combust, becoming an accelerant.
- Keep fuel stored in a shaded area, away from any potential ignition sources or equipment.
- If a fuel fire occurs, adding water will accelerate the fire.
- Extra precaution should be taken when recreating during extreme temperatures, high wind events, and low relative humidity. This is even more important on Red Flag Warning days.