SCM NEWS & OPINIONS

Prosecutors dismiss charges against Cottonwood Heights man accused of starting July Fourth fire

Salt Lake County prosecutors dismissed charges against Nathan Crane‘s client accused of starting a July Fourth grass fire that burned about 25 acres and damaged several structures including a home. As reported in the Salt Lake Tribune, Cottonwood Heights police made considerably errors in their investigation of the case.

Otterstrom wasn’t even close to where the fire started. Police initially told prosecutors his home was 175 feet from the fire, but it turned out the Otterstrom residence was more than 900 feet from where the blaze broke out, in a zone where fireworks are legal.  Crane said it was “physically impossible” for his client to have started the blaze.

In addition, police at first told prosecutors that Otterstrom’s home was the only residence in the area that showed evidence of aerial fireworks.  But that wasn’t true either. Crane said he interviewed neighbors and was able to pinpoint where fireworks were being lit off in that neighborhood, and the neighborhood behind the field. Crane said he confirmed that two other groups of people were lighting fireworks within about 20 yards to 25 yards from where the blaze started.