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Utah man heartbroken after generator explodes, causing massive wildfire

4,000-acre Jacob City Fire destroys nearly all his possessions
Posted at 9:25 PM, Jul 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-12 20:07:17-04

NOTE: The day after this story aired, Carr was arrested on suspicion of reckless burning and reckless behavior.

The original article continues below.


TOOELE COUNTY, Utah — Firefighters continue to battle the Jacob City Fire near Tooele, which has now burned over 4,000 acres.

On Monday, Gov. Spencer Cox visited the area of the Jacob City Fire and warned Utahns that they will be held responsible if they start a wildfire.

The U.S. Forest Service said initial investigators discovered a generator exploded on Saturday, starting the blaze.

Gary Carr told FOX 13 News that it was his brand new generator that caused it.

“I sit there in my car at night watching the east mountain," he said through tears. "Big flames, man. Fifty, sixty feet in the air."

WATCH: Campers share harrowing story of Jacob City Fire evacuation

Carr can only watch as Soldier Canyon burns for the third day in a row, knowing his motor home and everything he owns is gone.

“It makes me sick, especially when you don’t have much anyway,” he said.

He said he ordered a brand new generator at the end of June and plugged it in for the first time Saturday. He said it was working fine until he heard noises. He walked outside to find “trees just engulfed in flames.”

He called 911 and tried to put the fire out, burning his arms in the process.

“These are from hot coals bouncing on me,” he explained, showing his forearms.

Firefighters arrived and he was asked to leave. He said the area was “smoldering” when he left.

As of Monday night, the fire has spread across 4,117 acres and was 19 percent contained, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

“I know I’m scared, lost, confused,” said Carr. “I don’t know what happened.”

Sierra Hellstrom, a public information officer with the Northern Utah Interagency Type 3 Incident Management Team, said the Tooele County Sheriff’s Department and Stockton City Police are taking over the remainder of the investigation to determine if the generator explosion was from a user error or equipment failure.

“They will come in and look at where he was at, if he was in an area he should have been, if there are fire restrictions in the area or limitations involved,” she said.

Carr is now left homeless, living in his Toyota. He said he’s trying to contact the company that made the generator in hopes someone can be held responsible.

“If I wouldn’t have been there with that generator, the mountains wouldn't be burnt,” he said.