Former UHP Trooper Charged with Starting Wildfire

Published on August 09, 2017 at 10:04AM

VERNAL, Utah (AP) — A Utah man accused of starting a wildfire to “feel the excitement of it” is now charged with arson.

Prosecutors say in charges filed Monday that 37-year-old Rex Richard Olsen of Roosevelt used a cigarette and match combination as a delayed ignition device to start the June 9 blaze in eastern Utah.

The fire torched about 4 square miles (10 square kilometers) and briefly forced a neighborhood near Vernal to evacuate. Prosecutors say damage is estimated at more than $800,000.

Prosecutors say that fire investigators traced the cigarette to Olsen using video showing him buying that type of cigarette at a gas station.

Olsen was charged with felony arson and a misdemeanor violation of wildfire-prevention law.

No attorney or publicly listed phone number was immediately available for Olsen.