Posted: Apr 30, 2013 3:52 PM by KBZK Media Center with Judy Slate reporting
Updated: Apr 30, 2013 4:04 PM
VIRGINIA CITY - A man accused of sparking last summer's Bear Trap 2 Fire took the stand in his own defense on Tuesday afternoon.
Kyler Schmitz is charged with nine felony counts of arson. His trial is underway at the Madison County Courthouse.
Schmitz said on Tuesday that he lit the firework that started the fire, but the firework did not work properly. Schmitz said he tried to put out spot fires then called for help. He said he threw water from coolers onto the fire then filled the coolers from the river to dump on the fire.
In opening arguments, the defense argued that Schmitz notified other campers of the fire, tried to put it out and was accountable for his actions.
On Monday, the first day of trial, the prosecution played a tape on which jurors could hear Schmitz telling a deputy he was responsible for the blaze. According to the prosecutor, Schmitz made a series of choices that led to the blaze that destroyed private property, including a home.
According to charging documents, Schmitz and several friends were camping at the Bear Trap Campground in the Lower Madison recreation area. On the morning of June 25, 2012, Schmitz reportedly lit a firework that exploded several feet from the ground. According to witnesses, the firework sparked several fires in nearby tall grasses. The group tried to put out the fires with water and dirt, but the blaze quickly grew out of control. They fled and called 911.
The fire consumed more than 15,000 acres and cost more than $1.2 million.