A serial arsonist who officials say has admitted to starting six brush fires near Memory Grove Park has been charged with a felony for allegedly sparking a July 5 fire.
Because the fires did not cause enough damage, prosecutors had only been able to charge Wilbert Fike Jr., 53, with misdemeanors for fires in 2010 and 2011.
But the most recent fire — which charred a half-acre near East Capitol Boulevard and Bonneville Boulevard — caused more than $1,500 worth of damage, warranting a third-degree felony count of arson, according to charges filed Wednesday in 3rd District Court.
More than once, Fike has admitted to officials that he started a brush fire in hopes of returning to prison, where he has served time off and on since the late 1980s, court documents show.
But only able to file misdemeanor charges, Fike served year-long jail stints only to start new fires upon being released, officials said. Fike had been out of the Salt Lake County jail for less than a month when he used a lighter to ignite a page from a City Weekly newspaper to start last week’s fire in Memory Grove.
According to court documents, Fike told police that he started a fire and then returned a couple of hours later to light another grass fire, but could not get it going because it was lightly raining at the time.
No court date has been set for Fike in his most recent case.
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