Arizona Wildfire Starter Bryan Teague Sentenced to One Week in Prison

Categories: Burning Arizona

Image: U.S. Forest Service
Wildfire crew mops up a fireline from last year's Mistake Peak Fire.
Peoria resident Bryan Teague has been sentenced to a week in federal prison and two years' supervised probation for starting the August 2012 Mistake Peak Fire in the Tonto National Forest.

Still uncertain is whether he'll have to pay nearly half a million dollars in firefighting costs.

See also:
- Bryan Teague Should Get Prison Time and Pay $487K for Mistake Peak Fire, Feds Say

A hearing has been set for December 9 to determine whether Teague, 56, should pay restitution for the Mistake Peak Fire in the Tonto National Forest. The U.S. Forest Services wants him to pay $487,000, court records show.

Mistake Peak was a relatively small fire by Arizona standards, consuming an estimated 5,220 acres over about three weeks before firefighters tamed it. But the Arizona U.S. Attorney's Office had pressed for prison time because of Teague's recklessness and apparent attempts at avoiding responsibility.

teague bryan suspect.jpg
Bryan Teague
After lying at first to investigators, Teague eventually confessed to starting the fire on August 8, 2012, saying he'd kicked a 16-ounce propane tank into a campfire. The tank whistled, then exploded with a fireball he described during his interrogation as "bigger than my wingspan." Bushes began burning, followed by a large tree. Teague beat it out of there without calling authorities. Later that night, rangers found him in the woods, pretending to be asleep after apparently having tried to catch a ride with his wife and son.

The mini-disaster was the greatest of a series of reckless acts by Teague over the last 15-or-so years, most of which were due to his alcohol abuse. Besides several DUIs, including one that landed him in prison for a short time, the family man with a love of the outdoors has also been busted for assault and served time in 2011 for firing a handgun after two guys saw him urinating on a car near 29th Avenue and Indian School Road.

Teague pleaded guilty on May 14 to two misdemeanor counts related to the wildfire -- one for carelessly or negligently throwing or placing an ignited substance or any other substance that might cause a fire, and another for burning brush and trees without a permit. A third misdemeanor charge was dismissed.

Federal prosecutors argued in a court filing that Teague should get at 30 days behind bars, but U.S. District Court Judge Bridget Bade decided on September 9 that Teague would learn his lesson with less prison time.

Besides the week in prison, which he's to begin after surrendering himself to the marshal's office on October 11, the judge ordered a two-year term of supervised probation that forces him to obtain mental-health treatment and prohibits him from using booze or entering a national forest in Arizona unless for volunteer duty.

Teague's scheduled to appear before Bade again for the December 9 restitution hearing. Her decision will be based in part on Teague's income. Last November, two Arizona cousins whose abandoned campfire caused the Wallow Fire were ordered to fork over $3.7 million in perpetual monthly installments.

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My Voice Nation Help

I say, make people take a drinking test before they get their drinking license. Obviously, too many people just can't handle their liquor.


Excuse the obscenities, but this if fucking STUPID. My best friend stripped copper wire and got 5 YEARS. Give me a fucking break. Didn't cause nearly as much damage in monetary or environmental value. Get out of here.

Marco Cruz
Marco Cruz

Behead him, in the name of obama.

Robin Scott Andress
Robin Scott Andress

Fine and he should have to personally apologize (face to face) to every person who experienced loss of as a result of his action.

Danny Stauffer
Danny Stauffer

He should get the 2 years in prison and not just a week (really? a week? why send him at all?!) AND pay the full fine. Quite frankly 2 years isn't enough for the mess he created. I hope he has to meet the widows and surviving family members of every firefighter that DIED fixing his mistake.


He might have trouble with the 2 years of no glug-glug. peace

جورج کارامانا
جورج کارامانا

Technically if he was sentenced to one week of confinement, it would be served in jail, since prison is for all sentences lasting six months and above.

danzigsdaddy topcommenter

un-friggin-believable.........................justice aint just blind, it needs a safety helmet and leash when going to the mall.

eric.nelson745 topcommenter

Just amazing. This career criminal has yet to really be held accountable for anything. I wonder what was the legal theory behind the one week sentence.

Flyer9753 topcommenter

1 WEEK!?!?!?!?!

Did this guy blow the judge or something???

Cozz topcommenter

Wow, thats getting off lucky.

danzigsdaddy topcommenter

@Danny Stauffer  nice sentiment, different fire though

ray.stern moderator

@جورج کارامانا OK, you made me curious, so I did a bit more research. Paperwork shows he was sentenced to "prison." Without commenting on this specific case, US Marshal David Gonzales tells us that convicts in "STS" (for "short-term sentence") cases like Teague's don't "technically" go to a federal Bureau of Prisons facility. Instead, they're typically bused down to a CCA facility in Florence to do their time.

ray.stern moderator

@جورج کارامانا  He was sentenced to a week in prison.

MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

Flyer, the judge is a woman.

I do think his sentence is WAY too lenient though.

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