SALT LAKE CITY — A man who claimed he was trying to steal gas when he accidentally lit a large fire at a Hertz rental car lot at the Salt Lake City International Airport has been charged.
Eduardo Hidalgo Fuenzalida, 27, of Salt Lake City, was charged Tuesday in 3rd District Court with criminal mischief, a second-degree felony; reckless burning, a class A misdemeanor; trespassing, a class B misdemeanor; and theft, a class B misdemeanor.
On July 6, 19 cars were damaged by fire in the Hertz lot at the airport, 776 N. Terminal Drive, causing more than $500,000 in damage, according to charging documents.
Airport police reviewed surveillance video and spotted a man walking through the parking lot who also accessed the economy lot "through gate arms that are typically used by employees of the car rental agency," the charges state. Another video showed the man's car license plate, which was registered to Fuenzalida.
A manager at GCA Services at the airport told police that Fuenzalida used to be an employee, according to charging documents.
When interviewed by detectives, Fuenzalida said he went to the Hertz lot to steal gas, the charges state. First he tried to siphon it. "He then decided to get under the car and drill into the gas tank with a power drill," court documents state.
While doing this, gas spilled onto the drill and a fire ignited, the charges state. Fuenzalida got out from under the car, extinguished his pants and shirt that were on fire, gathered his belongings and left, according to the charges.
"Fuenzalida explained he did not attempt to put out the fire or report the fire because he was scared and saw the fire growing in size," the charges state.