A series of small forest fires that started this week in northern Utah and southern Wyoming are being investigated as arsons.
Six fires were started on Monday along Interstate 80 in Utah. There were a dozen more along the same highway in Wyoming.
Jason Curry is a fire investigator with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. He said arson makes up less than 10 percent of the wildfires they see.
“It’s not one of our biggest causes but it’s obviously the most preventable one because it’s somebody acting intentionally. We like to put a lot of attention into those cases and locate individuals and put a stop to their activities as soon as possible,” he said.
Curry said depending on the size and damage a fire causes, arson on forest lands can be charged as a first-degree felony. That could mean a minimum of five years in prison and $10,000 fine.
According to data from the National Interagency Fire Center, arson accounts for about six percent of fires on National Forest lands across the country.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.