- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 8, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A Utah man has been charged after authorities said his vehicle started a fire that damaged a rock preserve near Utah Lake and injured a passenger.

Authorities charged 21-year-old Dominic Deros with criminal mischief and trespassing, both misdemeanors, after police said he started the fire while trying to bypass a road closure caused by an existing wildfire, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Tuesday.

A female passenger suffered severe burns and was flown to the University of Utah’s Burn Center for treatment after the fire burned Deros’ vehicle, authorities said.

Police say Deros drove off a road near Provo to evade a roadblock built as the result of a wildfire that started June 28 and forced the evacuation of more than 13,000 people.

Utah County Sheriff Sgt. Spencer Cannon says Deros cut through a fence about 14 miles (23 kilometers) south of Saratoga Springs.

Cannon says Deros cut the fence to enter the Adelbert Doyle Smith Family Archaeological Preserve. and heat from Deros’s vehicle ignited dry brush in a ravine inside the preserve.

High winds pushed the flames toward a home south of the preserve. Emergency crews cut lines to stop the fire’s progress.

Police say the fire also hindered efforts to fight the larger fire threatening subdivisions in the southern area of Saratoga Springs.

Court documents did not list a lawyer for Deros.

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