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BYU-Idaho student pleads guilty to starting Desert Ride Fire


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The Desert Ride Fire | Courtesy Deidra Kortright

MENAN — A Brigham Young University-Idaho student pleaded guilty Monday to igniting a brush fire that burned thousands of acres.

The fire started Aug. 11 west of the Menan Buttes when Jacob C. Fagersten, a BYU-Idaho student from Iowa, shot a smoke bomb firework with a .22 caliber rifle. Fagersten called 911 to report he started the fire and pleaded guilty to starting a fire in timber or prairie land, a misdemeanor charge.

A Jefferson County Sheriff’s office deputy spoke with Fagersten on Aug. 12. According to court documents, Fagersten, a friend and his friend’s brother were shooting .22 caliber rifles when he shot a smoke bomb he had with him. He said after shooting about three times, the smoke bomb ignited the brush and the group rushed to stomp it out.

RELATED: Desert Ride Fire now 70 percent contained

“Jacob said he knew he should not have done it,” the deputy writes in his report. “He said he had no idea why he did it.”

The fire took firefighters several days to fully contain and burned 4,537 acres.

Fagersten could be subject to a fine and for fire suppression and rehabilitation costs as part of violating the 2019 Fire Prevention Order. The order prohibits specific fire-related activities on public land from May 10 to October 20, including possessing and use of fireworks on BLM lands.

Sentencing for Fagersten is scheduled for Sept. 30.