Feds sue 9 over 2006 Utah wildfire

Posted at 9:18 PM, Jul 02, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-02 23:18:36-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Federal authorities have filed a $1.7 million civil lawsuit against nine people accused of starting a wildfire in southern Utah.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Utah recently filed the lawsuit over the 2006 Jarvis Fire that torched more than 50,000 acres on the Utah-Arizona border. The lawsuit accuses the nine of making a campfire in violation of a ban at the time, saying they drove into the area to camp, smoke, drink and “party.”

Sparks from the fire spread to dry brush nearby and ignited the wildfire, the lawsuit claims.

“Upon discovering the wildfire, and realizing that they did not have adequate water or tools to suppress the fire, Defendants fled the scene and failed to make any attempt to report the fire by calling 911 or otherwise alerting authorities,” the lawsuit said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said in the lawsuit that the nine were adjudicated in juvenile court on criminal charges related to the wildfire. The lawsuit seeks to recover $1.7 million in damages, naming Ronny Aguinaga, David Brown, Emery Gifford, Jerame Hafen, Jesse Hafen, Jordan Hafen, Kyle Isom, Andrew Jarrell, and Leah Secrist as defendants.

Federal court records indicated some of the nine cannot be located to be served with papers, so lawyers for the government have asked a judge to publish the lawsuit in a St. George-area newspaper as notice.