Bryan Teague of Peoria Accused of Starting 5,220-Acre "Mistake Peak Fire" With Propane Tank in Tonto National Forest
A typical 16-ounce propane tank. Don't put these in a campfire.
Teague then explained that he'd come into the area after his utility vehicle broke down. No one else was there. He lit a fire to cook some food, but didn't cook any food. He thought he'd put out the fire by pouring four or five water bottles on it.
The officers told him there was no sign that anyone had tried to put out the fire.
Teague admitted that he'd seen some smoke and "figured he knew what had started the fire," but left the area because he "just wanted to go home."
On August 17, Teague voluntarily went into Forest Service's Tonto National Forest Supervisor's Office in Phoenix for an interview. At first, he stuck to his story. Then officials confronted him with the evidence they'd found.
Teague then admitted he got angry because his vehicle had stopped working, and kicked the propane tank into the fire ring. It began to whistle, then exploded with a fireball "bigger than his wingspan..."
"He said flaming 'ambers' (sic) went everywhere and began to catch the wood-line around the camp on fire," records state. Teague saw "a large tree become engulfed in flames, got scared, and fled the area."
The Forest Service is seeking charges of carelessly or negligently throwing or placing any ignited substance or other substance that may cause a fire, burning brush or timber without a permit, and leaving a fire without completely extinguishing it.
Image: US Forest Service A plume from the 5,220-acre Mistake Peak Fire in the Tonto National Forest in August of 2012.
Reports from the news media and government show that after Teague blew up the campsite, the fire spread over the next several days to scorch a large swatch of land. It was finally contained on August 27, having consumed 5,220 acres.
The kicker: Teague had just gotten out of prison a few months before the fire, having been sentenced to one year for shooting a firearm within city limits.
We tried unsuccessfully to reach the Teagues by phone this evening.