BOUNTIFUL — A Layton couple has been issued a citation accusing them of starting the Gun Range Fire above Bountiful that destroyed three homes and damaged five others.
Originally, the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands said the charges were pending in federal court. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has confirmed, however, that Ashlyn Nelson and Jeremy Flores were issued a ticket through the Central Violations Bureau for leaving a campfire without fully extinguishing it.
The fire that started Aug. 29 burned about 300 acres and forced the evacuation of approximately 400 homes in the foothills above Bountiful and Centerville.
Investigators determined that a campfire on U.S. Forest Service land that was not properly extinguished, started the wildfire. The fire itself was not illegal. But the ordinance that was allegedly violated allows for a person to be cited for: leaving a fire without completely extinguishing it; causing and failing to maintain control of a fire that is not a prescribed fire that damages the national forest system; or building, attending, maintaining, or using a campfire without removing all flammable material from around the campfire adequate to prevent its escape.
The Central Violations Bureau processes tickets for violations on federal property, including the Forest Service and national parks.
According to Trey Outlaw, special agent for U.S. Forest Service, the ticket issued to the Layton couple is the equivalent of an infraction. It carries a potential fine of $250, but no jail time.
In most cases, people who receive a federal ticket can just pay their fine and not have to go to court if they’re not going to contest it, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Other similar infractions handled through the Central Violations Bureau include illegal cutting of firewood or Christmas trees on Forest Service land, illegal camping and littering.
Nelson and Flores have been ordered to make a mandatory court appearance on Oct. 17. Outlaw said that was done mostly to give prosecutors more time to review all aspects of the case.
The couple may also potentially face separate civil litigation.