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Man pleads guilty to arson for starting Utah Wildfire

First Published Jul 30 2012 08:02 pm • Last Updated Jul 31 2012 05:59 pm

A Wayne County man on Monday admitted to starting a $3.2 million wildfire.

Lance Allen Durfey, 38, of Torrey, waived several of his rights Monday and opted to plead guilty in 6th District Court to third-degree felony arson. The charge carries up to five years in prison.

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Earlier this month, Durfey was accused of using a lighter to start several fires June 3 along a trail that ignited the Lost Lake Fire.

Durfey’s attorney, David Van Dyke, said the defendant "discussed things with the Sheriff’s Office, and based on his discussion with them, this was the appropriate thing to do."

Durfey will be sentenced Sept. 24, when he will find out if he’ll be forced to pay any restitution on top of being incarcerated.

Van Dyke said the judge said restitution would be a possibility in a "separate matter" in the case. As of Monday evening, Van Dyke hadn’t seen anything from the state related to restitution requests for Durfey.

The Lost Lake Fire burned 2,000 acres on Boulder Mountain near the town of Teasdale. The fire forced the evacuation of about a half-dozen homes, took two weeks to control and cost $3.2 million to fight.

According to documents filed in 6th District Court, Durfey went on a horseback ride near Donkey Reservoir to get away from his marital problems. He was drinking beer while riding and confessed he became frustrated with the amount of fallen timber blocking the trial, which forced him to make detours of as much as 100 yards.

When Durfey returned to his truck he encountered a Forest Service ranger who cited him for having expired license plates on his truck. On June 18, two days after the fire was contained, Durfey confessed to starting the fires during a three-hour interview with police.

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