Iron County Sheriff's Office via AP

Utah survivalist whose bunker caused problems during Brian Head Fire charged

By Pat Reavy, KSL | Posted - Aug 10th, 2018 @ 10:33am


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SALT LAKE CITY — An 82-year-old man whose bunker full of explosives caused problems for crews fighting the massive Brian Head Fire last year will face a felony charge in court.

Richard O. Batt, of Parowan, was charged Wednesday in Iron County's 5th District Court with having incendiary device parts, a third-degree felony.

In June 2017, firefighters battling the Brian Head Fire near Parowan came across a burned down cabin. Then they heard "popping" sounds, according to the Iron County Sheriff's Office.

"The firefighters first thought the 'popping' sounds were rocks exploding due to heat, but as the sound continued for approximately five minutes, firefighters realized the 'popping' sound was actually ammunition exploding in the fire," according to a 2017 press release from the Iron County Sheriff's Office.

The source of the popping was determined to be a nearby underground bunker. Inside the bunker investigators found a box of novelty grenades, explosive powder, fuses and ammunition.

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Deputies determined Batt, who claimed he was preparing for the end of days, owned the cabin and seven or eight others hidden throughout the area. The survivalist said most were "supplied with food storage, firearms and ammunition, and he had built the shelters and storage caches over the course of several years," the press release stated.

An initial court appearance for Batt is scheduled for Sept. 11.

The Brian Head Fire burned 71,000 acres and cost $34 million to fight. A Taylorsville man allegedly started the fire when trying to clear weeds around his cabin. He faces a charge of reckless burning.

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Updated: Saturday August 18, 2018 10:25 pm