Charges Filed Against Homeless Man in Farmington Fire

Charges Filed Against Homeless Man in Farmington Fire

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Federal charges were filed Monday against a homeless man who told authorities he started a wildfire so he could get arrested and have shelter.

Heinz Josef Bruhl, 33, is charged with a felony for malicious destruction of United States property for starting the fire on July 10 that went on to burn 1,935 acres east of Farmington. The fire was 100 percent contained on Friday.

At one point, the blaze forced the evacuation of several homes. The fire burned scorched U.S. Forest Service land owned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The federal charges carry a penalty of 5 to 20 years in prison.

He also was charged Friday in state court with causing a catastrophe.

Bruhl was found walking down a dirt road from where the fire had started, according to charging documents. When approached by a Farmington police officer, Bruhl "raised his hands in the air and indicated that he had started and was responsible for the fire," according to the charges.

"Bruhl indicated that he suffered from schizophrenia and that he started the fire because he wanted to go to prison so that he would have a place to live," according to court documents.

Bruhl is scheduled for an initial appearance before Magistrate Judge Samuel Alba Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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