Man may face charges for stockpiles of explosives found by firefighters battling Brian Head Fire

Bunker where firefighters discovered explosives while battling Brian Head Fire in June, date and location of photo not specified | Photo courtesy Iron County Sheriff's Office, St. George News / Cedar City News

ST. GEORGE — A Parowan man suspected of storing explosives in several illegal bunkers and structures found within the area of this summer’s Brian Head Fire faces possible charges and fines.

According to a Nov. 30 statement from the Iron County Sheriff’s Office, the man, whose name has not been released, has been cooperating with authorities from multiple agencies investigating the case.

Area where firefighters discovered ammunition and explosives while battling Brian Head Fire in June, date and location of photo not specified | Photo courtesy Iron County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News / Cedar City News

The stockpiled explosives – which included hand grenades and black powder – were first discovered by wildland firefighters who were battling the Brian Head Fire more than a week after the massive wildfire first started June 17.

“During firefighting efforts on June 27, 2017, firefighters working in the vicinity of Henderson Hill heard ‘popping’ sounds,” according to the statement. “The firefighters first thought the ‘popping’ sounds were rocks exploding due to heat, but as the sound continued for approximately five minutes, firefighters realized the ‘popping’ sound was actually ammunition exploding in the fire.”

Firefighters then hiked into the area and found a cabin structure that had burned to the ground, along with a nearby underground bunker containing ammunition, inert grenades, fuses and explosive powder, in addition to a large number of storage containers filled with food, the statement said.

Area where firefighters discovered ammunition and explosives while battling Brian Head Fire in June, date and location of photo not specified | Photo courtesy Iron County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News / Cedar City News

After taking photographs at the site, firefighters left the area and notified law enforcement.

“Due to the presence of potentially dangerous items, and for the safety of firefighting personnel, firefighting action in the immediate area of the burned cabin was changed to aerial suppression only,” the release states.

On June 30, bomb squad technicians and other law enforcement personnel were flown to the bunker site by helicopter, while other officers were dispatched to the Parowan home of the man they believed was responsible.

“During the interview, the person was cooperative and eventually admitted to officers the bunker and burned-down cabin were his; and he had indeed purchased, drilled-out, and threaded the novelty hand-grenades,” the news release states. “The person also told officers the hand grenades were not an explosive hazard to firefighters or officers responding to the location.”

Area where firefighters discovered ammunition and explosives while battling Brian Head Fire in June, date and location of photo not specified | Photo courtesy Iron County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News / Cedar City News

The man reportedly also told authorities that he had seven or eight additional cabin structures or bunkers hidden throughout the area, with most of them also being supplied with food storage, firearms and ammunition. He told investigators he had been building the shelters and stockpiling supplies for several years.

Investigators determined that the cabins, bunkers and storage caches were on public land managed by the U.S. Forest Service and on state land owned and managed by the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration.

Two cabins on Forest Service land had reportedly burned to the ground in the fire. However, another small cabin, made of plywood and measuring 4 feet wide by 8 feet long and 10 feet tall, was found intact on a steep mountainside on trust land outside the fire area.

“The person responsible for the cabins, bunker and storage caches is cooperating with investigators and has accompanied investigators to each of the locations, described when they were constructed and what was stored at each location,” according to the statement.

All of the cabins, bunkers and storage caches were safely dismantled and their contents removed, authorities said.

Area where firefighters discovered ammunition and explosives while battling Brian Head Fire in June, date and location of photo not specified | Photo courtesy Iron County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News / Cedar City News

Despite the man’s cooperation, he could face charges for building the structures on public land, along with possible charges related to the stockpiling of explosive materials. He also could be required to pay restitution costs for the removal and cleanup, the statement said.

State and federal land management agencies “take very seriously the danger explosive caches pose to firefighters and the public; as well as the degradation of the public land through the unlawful construction of shelters, bunkers and storage caches,” according to the statement.

The Iron County Sheriff’s Office said the Washington County’s bomb squad, along with assistance from the FBI’s Salt Lake City division Special Agent Bomb Technicians, were called in to dispose of the ammunition and explosive material.

Also assisting in the investigation were law enforcement officials from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, special agents from the Forest Service and a helicopter operated by the Utah Highway Patrol / Utah Department of Public Safety.

Authorities said as soon as the investigation is completed, they plan to present their findings to the Iron County Attorney and United States Attorney’s Office for consideration of possible criminal charges and/or pursuing the recovery of restitution costs.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

Email: jrichards@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

 

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

Posted in Government, Local, National, NewsTagged , , ,

8 Comments

  • Kyle L. November 30, 2017 at 4:58 pm

    I personally think that there should be more of these places. The explosives may be a bit much but to have ammunition and food storage in a remote location is a good idea for anyone. Relying on people or government to act in a honorable manner, during times of emergency, may be a novel idea. Look around you and think how many of your neighbors would put your best interests before theirs in a desperate time? To have a backup plan is not only a good idea, it is a necessity for rational thinking individuals.

    • Real Life December 1, 2017 at 6:18 am

      Rational thinking. Lol! You need to get out more. Whatever propaganda you are filling your feeble little mind with is depriving the the rest of your brain of useful information. The guy who did this is an idiot, and a criminal.

    • Chris December 1, 2017 at 11:54 am

      You are as much of a crackpot as the subject of this piece.

  • Badshitzoo November 30, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    Since the November election last year, I am sure there has been a huge surge in “Prepper’s”, and liberal prepper’s at that! It’s almost going to be a whole new demographic of customers prepping with purchases of guns, ammo, explosives, bomb shelters, food that will be good for 25 years, etc etc etc.

  • PlanetU November 30, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    What a grand idea, Why don’t we all just do whatever we want on PUBLIC LAND. Bunch of idiots. Another slap on the wrist, no charges. Probably is the Parowan Prophet. Let’s see the world was going to end …when was that, oh no it must be this December, or was that last December? If the world’s going to end, you don’t want to be here.

    • Mean Momma December 1, 2017 at 9:35 am

      Yep! That is exactly who I think it is too, the Parowan Prophet. He must be even more out of his mind than usual now that he doesn’t have his precious bunkers to go to when the world ends.

  • Dennis November 30, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    Could face, possible charges? REALLY!
    and I suppose the 2nd Amendment was written to cover situations like this?
    WOW

  • comments November 30, 2017 at 9:15 pm

    zombie apocalypse . LOL

Leave a Reply