MOAB — A 17-year-old admitted in court Monday to causing a catastrophe in connection with the Cinema Court Fire that burned eight Moab homes in June.
The teen, who was 16 at the time of the fire, admitted in 7th District Juvenile Court to causing a catastrophe, a class A misdemeanor, Grand County Sheriff's Lt. Kim Neal confirmed. The boy was originally also charged with reckless burning.
The name of the teen and additional details about how the fire began were not released. The case's disposition will take place in December, Neal said.
The fast-moving, wind-fueled fire on June 12 forced the evacuation of approximately 150 people and resulted in several residents and firefighters being treated for smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion.
Rick Carrigan, one of the community members whose home fell victim to the blaze, told the Deseret News he's pleased police "found the person that caused the problem, that caused the fire."
During the fire, Carrigan and his wife made it out just in time with their dog, but the flames spread so quickly they had to leave their three cats behind.
He said the boy is required to do mediation for the victims within 45 to 60 days.
But Carrigan expressed frustration about juvenile law, which he says has made it difficult for victims of similar crimes to get justice.
"So they're trying to protect juveniles, but we're seeing all over the world, a lot of young people, 14, 15, 16-year-old juveniles, doing heinous crimes. … And if they're not being punished for it, then what kind of example … is being set for other children?" Carrigan asked.
However, he said he does not believe the boy should be required to go to juvenile detention and instead should do community service.
"It makes a person think, for every hour that I'm giving back, someone had to give up an hour of their life," Carrigan said.
"I hope he makes a good choice to be a good citizen, to be productive in society."
Correction: A previous version incorrectly stated the teen's hearing was on Tuesday. He was in court on Monday.