VERNAL, Utah — Prosecutors have filed a felony arson charge against a former Utah Highway Patrol Trooper and fire chief accused of starting a wildfire to “feel the excitement of it.”
Authorities say GPS data from 37-year-old Rex Richard Olsen’s patrol car linked him to the fire. Charges say gas station surveillance footage showed him buying the cigarette used in a makeshift delayed-ignition device June 9.
The blaze near Vernal torched about 1 square mile (2.5 square kilometers) and caused more than $800,000 in damage.
UHP says Olsen was fired after officials were notified about the investigation, and they regret if it reflected negatively on the department. Olsen previously served as fire chief of the small eastern Utah town of Neola.
No attorney or publicly listed phone number was available for Olsen.