Reckless Burning Charges For Utah Man Who Set Apartment Building A Blaze

A Layton, Utah man has been charged with reckless burning and other charges after he set his apartment building ablaze while playing with fire.

Fire safety

Photo by: bandita

20 year old Angel David Colebrook was playing around with burning incense in an area of his apartment contaminated with gasoline when a fire started. With the help of the spilled accelerant, the fire quickly spread to neighboring apartments. Firefighters were unable to contain the fire in time. Flames completely engulfed the entire 24 apartment building, displacing all of the residents and causing multiple injuries to residents. Colebrook originally told officers the fire was a result of a kitchen accident before he came clean about playing with the incense and lighter. He was booked into Davis County Jail on reckless endangerment and reckless burning.

Reckless burning

Colebrook is facing two class A misdemeanor charges. One for reckless endangerment for endangering the lives of the other tenants through his negligence and the other for reckless burning. Utah Code 76-6-104 states “A person is guilty of reckless burning if the person:

  1. recklessly starts a fire or causes an explosion which endangers human life;
  2. having started a fire, whether recklessly or not, and knowing that it is spreading and will endanger the life or property of another, either fails to take reasonable measures to put out or control the fire or fails to give a prompt fire alarm;
  3. builds or maintains a fire without taking reasonable steps to remove all flammable materials surrounding the site of the fire as necessary to prevent the fire’s spread or escape; or
  4. damages the property of another by reckless use of fire or causing an explosion.”

The penalties for reckless burning range from a class C misdemeanor to a class A misdemeanor. Class A misdemeanor charges result if someone’s life is endangered or if the damage to property exceeds $1,500 in value.

Irresponsible or intentional

At this time Colebrook is being charged based on the statement that his actions were irresponsible. If investigators determine that he intentionally set the fire, he could face felony arson charges. Those facing charges related to reckless burning are encouraged to seek legal guidance to ensure their intentions are not misconstrued.

Estranged Ex Arrested for Vehicle Arson in Utah

The estranged ex of a Kearns, Utah resident was arrested for vehicle arson after going to her ex-boyfriend’s house and lighting two vehicles on fire.

Late-night bonfire

Photo by: Michael Pardo

The residents of a Kearns household awakened Thursday to find two of their vehicles and part of the garage on fire. An accelerant, most likely gasoline, had been poured onto a vehicle in the driveway and another on the street before being lit on fire. Both vehicles suffered several thousand dollars in damage and the garage near one vehicle suffered severe damage as well. Multiple neighbors turned in camera footage where a female was seen committing the vehicle arson before getting into her own car and taking off.

The one that got away

The camera footage collected from neighbors showed 27 year old Jessica Halee Wright, the ex-girlfriend to one of the residents of the home, as the sole suspect in the vehicle arson case. No reasoning was given as to why she set the cars on fire. Since both vehicles were not occupied at the time of the torching, she more than likely didn’t mean to cause any physical harm to anyone. She possibly started the fires out of anger toward her ex or his family who also occupied the home. It isn’t know how long ago the relationship with Wright and the resident ended, but one can assume they were not on good terms.

Photo by: Kate Ter Haar

Vehicle arson

Wright was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for arson. The charges for arson depend on the monetary value of the item burned and whether or not the property was a residence or an occupied vehicle or outbuilding. Since no one was inside the vehicles when Wright lit them on fire, and she will be facing arson and not aggravated arson charges. According to Utah Code 76-6-102, “A person is guilty of arson if . . . the person by means of fire or explosives unlawfully and intentionally damages . . . the property of another.” Since the damage to the vehicles and garage were greater than $5,000, Wright is facing second degree charges for vehicle arson.

Counselor before an attorney

Anyone facing a nasty breakup is encouraged to seek counseling to work through anger or betrayal issues before letting their issues turn into hostility and criminal activity. Those already facing trouble for their erroneous way of handling a soured relationship should seek legal counsel from a trusted attorney.

Reckless burning vs Arson in Utah

Authorities are searching for information on the persons responsible for causing the wildfires that are tearing through Utah presently, but will those responsibility end up facing reckless burning or arson charges? What is the difference?

6,000 acres and counting

Photo by: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

The skies of southern and northeastern Utah are full of smoke as wildfires burn through nearly 6,000 acres of land. The Mackshaft fire that is 25% contained and has already consumed 2,453 acres of land is located southeast of Vernal near the city of Bonanza. The cause of that fire is still under investigation according to Utahfireinfo.gov. The Brian Head Fire located in very close proximity to the resort town of Brian Head, Utah east of Cedar City has been determined to be human caused. That fire has burned 2,761 acres of land so far and is being further fueled by hot, dry winds. The Brian Head Fire is currently at only 15% containment.

Fire rules and restrictions

With wildfire season upon us, strict rules are in place regarding when and where fires are permitted. Wildfires are more common during the hot, dry months of summer and by limiting the number of human caused fires during this time, fire officials can focus their energy and resources on naturally caused fires instead. When a human caused fire does occur, those individuals responsible may be expected to reimburse the state for the costs associated with controlling and extinguishing the fire. Additionally, they may face criminal charges for either reckless burning or arson. This depends on many factors including whether or not the fire was accidental or intentional and the cost of the total damage.

Reckless burning

Reckless Burning vs Arson

Photo by: Denis Dervisevic

Utah Code 76-6-104 discusses reckless burning and the penalties associated with charges. It states:

“(1) A person is guilty of reckless burning if the person:
(a) recklessly starts a fire or causes an explosion which endangers human life;
(b) having started a fire, whether recklessly or not, and knowing that it is spreading and will endanger the life or property of another, either fails to take reasonable measures to put out or control the fire or fails to give a prompt fire alarm;
(c) builds or maintains a fire without taking reasonable steps to remove all flammable materials surrounding the site of the fire as necessary to prevent the fire’s spread or escape; or
(d) damages the property of another by reckless use of fire or causing an explosion.
(2)
(a) A violation of Subsection (1)(a) or (b) is a class A misdemeanor.
(b) A violation of Subsection (1)(c) is a class B misdemeanor.
(c) A violation of Subsection (1)(d) is:
(i) a class A misdemeanor if damage to property is or exceeds $1,500 in value;
(ii) a class B misdemeanor if the damage to property is or exceeds $500 but is less than $1,500 in value; and
(iii) a class C misdemeanor if the damage to property is or exceeds $150 but is less than $500 in value.
(d) Any other violation under Subsection (1)(d) is an infraction.

Arson

Arson charges are much more severe than reckless burning as it involves intent or criminal activity leading up to the event. Arson charges usually arise when someone sets fire to the property of another such as a home or vehicle, however wildfires that are started intentionally have the potential to cause structural damage as well. According to Utah Code 76-6-102:
“(1) A person is guilty of arson if, under circumstances not amounting to aggravated arson, the
person by means of fire or explosives unlawfully and intentionally damages:
(a) any property with intention of defrauding an insurer; or
(b) the property of another.
Depending on value of the damage and whether or not injuries occurred as a result of the violation, charges for arson can range from a class B misdemeanor to a second degree felony.

Criminal Defense

Anyone facing charges for accidentally starting a fire (reckless burning) or intentionally starting a fire (arson) should immediately seek counsel with a reputable criminal defense attorney.