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COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — A man was charged Monday in connection with sparking a brush fire that damaged a home after he set off fireworks.
Richard C. Otterstrom, 49, of Cottonwood Heights, was charged with reckless burning, a class A misdemeanor, in 3rd District Court. Otterstrom could face a fine and a maximum of up to one year in jail, according to a statement released by the district attorney’s office Monday.
The charge stems from a fire sparked by fireworks the night of July 4, Cottonwood Heights Police Lt. Dan Bartlett said.
Crews were dispatched to a fire that began in the backyard of a home near 7500 Enchanted Hills Drive sometime around 10:30 p.m., Bartlett said.
The fire then spread through a field behind a cemetery, down a gully and burned the outside of a home near 3000 E. Bradbury Road, according to a report filed by Cottonwood Heights police.
“It burned a couple of acres going down the hill. It threatened a bunch of homes along the way and then ended at a single residence,” Bartlett said. “It did quite a bit of damage to the exterior of the home but not the interior of the home.”
He said investigators were still working on an exact amount of the damage.
A fire investigator found several spent fireworks in front of Otterstrom’s home, which was near the home where the fire began, according to the report.
“If you’re reckless with what you’re doing and it causes a fire like that — damage to property or threatens the lives of people — that’s against the law, that’s what we’re asking (to be prosecuted)." - Cottonwood Heights Police Lt. Dan Bartlett
The report stated Otterstrom told police he had been lighting off fireworks but stopped when he realized a nearby field was on fire. He did not call 911, the report added.
Cottonwood Heights has fireworks restrictions in place and reminded residents in response to the fire and other wildland fires in the area.
The city banned fireworks in certain areas, including all aerial fireworks within 300 feet of vacant lots or undeveloped land, as well as ground fireworks within 50 feet of vacant lots or undeveloped land.
Bartlett said the fire sparked Tuesday was on the border of one of the restricted areas. However, Bartlett said police pushed the district attorney’s office to file a reckless burning charge, which can be given in restricted and unrestricted areas.
“If you’re reckless with what you’re doing and it causes a fire like that — damage to property or threatens the lives of people — that’s against the law, that’s what we’re asking (to be prosecuted),” he said.