Bryan Teague of Peoria Accused of Starting 5,220-Acre "Mistake Peak Fire" With Propane Tank in Tonto National Forest
Image: AZ Department of Corrections Bryan J. Teague of Peoria was arrested on February 8 and accused by the United States Forest Service of kicking a propane can into a campfire on August 8, sparking the 5,220-acre "Mistake Peak Fire" in the Tonto National Forest.
Putting a propane tank in a campfire turns out to be an even stupider idea than we thought.
After Bryan J. Teague of Peoria put a 16-ounce tank in a campfire on August 8 while on an off-roading trip in the Tonto National Forest, the predictable explosion sparked the 5,220-acre "Mistake Peak Fire," court documents state.
Investigators quickly figured out where the fire, which had started at about 6 p.m., originated. Later that same night, Teague, 56, was caught skulking in woods and questioned. He lied initially about the details of the incident, records state, but confessed a week later to kicking the propane tank in the fire ring, watching it explode, and leaving the site after the fire grew out of control.
The U.S. Forest Service filed a federal criminal complaint against Teague on Thursday, and he was arrested in Peoria on Friday, court records show.
Image: woodscountrycycleblog.com Investigators found a Can Am side-by-side utility vehicle similar to this one at the campsite where the Mistake Peak Fire started.
Records show that on the evening of August 8, investigators found an abandoned campsite near the intersection of forest roads 236 and 236a where they believed the fire started. One big clue was the exploded propane tank in the fire ring. At the site was a 2012 Can Am side-by-side utility vehicle loaded with camping supplies and a container labeled "Teague's Book League."
Forest Service law-enforcement officers staked out the roads in the wooded area and talked to some firefighters battling the growing blaze who said they ran into a guy who told them he was a hiker.
At about 11 p.m., officials stopped a red Jeep towing an empty trailer that was heading towards the fire on different forest road. Inside the Jeep were Zeke Teague and Tiffany Teague. Zeke's relationship wasn't identified in the complaint, but Tiffany told an officer she was looking for Bryan, her husband, who had called her after his utility vehicle broke down. She said Bryan had said nothing about a fire, and she said she didn't know about it, either, until she saw firefighters.
Officials allowed her to load up the Can Am utility vehicle and other equipment at the campsite, and Tiffany Teague headed out of the area.
At about 1:30 a.m., officials noticed the Jeep near the same campsite, slowing down on a forest road about 70 yards from the site. From the complaint, which was penned by Larry Hall, USFS Special Agent:
When the officer pulled closer to the Jeep, it continued westbound on FSDR 236. The officer heard brush breaking in the wood-line and used a spotlight to illuminate a white male adult, later identified as Bryan J. Teague. [Teague] tried to quickly sit down, slumping his head and shoulders, to act as if he were sleeping when the spotlight illuminated him.
At first, Teague would not even "acknowledge" the fire as officers talked to him. He denied he'd talked to the firefighters until told they could identify him. Officers saw that the tread on the soles of his shoes matched footprints found at the campsite.