A three-day bench trial has been scheduled for Bryan Teague, the Peoria man who authorities say admitted to starting last summer's "Mistake Peak" fire with a propane tank.
Despite his admission, Teague has pleaded not guilty to three misdemeanor charges: carelessly placing or throwing a substance that could cause a fire, burning the forest without a permit, and leaving a fire without completely extinguishing it.
As our previous stories releated, Teague was on an off-roading trip to a remote part of the Tonto National Forest northeast of Phoenix when he decided to build a campfire. He didn't cook any food, but he did kick a 16-ounce propane tank into the fire, he later confessed.
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The tank exploded, resulting in a fireball that set nearby trees on fire. Teague, who'd just gotten out of prison four months earlier for shooting a gun recklessly in Phoenix while drunk, didn't bother to call for help. Instead, records show, he seemed to be hiding in the bushes when investigators found him a few hours later.
The out-of-control blaze consumed 5,220 acres of the Tonto over the next few weeks before it was contained by fire crews in late August.
We left a message for his public defender, Milagros Cisneros, hoping to find out the details of Teague's planned defense. We'll let you know if we hear back.
Teague's bench trial, which may last three days, is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. on May 29 before Magistrate Judge Bridget S Bade at the federal courthouse in downtown Phoenix.