Man charged in Cottonwood Heights fire over July 4


COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah - Charges have been filed against a Cottonwoods Heights man after fireworks set off a blaze in his neighborhood on Independence Day. The fire burned about 25 acres, including a home on Bradbury Road, where David Schoeneck lives with his wife and son. .

“The firefighter said 20 seconds more your house was gone,” says Schoeneck.

Schoeneck is feeling fortunate the Fourth of July fire was put out in the nick of time.

“If this had happened at three o’clock in the morning my wife and son could’ve been burnt to death,” says Schoeneck.

Police say 49-year-old Richard Otterstrom, who didn’t answer the door when Fox 13 showed up, lit aerial fireworks in a restricted area. Police say he admitted to it and he stopped when he saw it sparked a fire, but he didn’t call 911.

“Even if he did call 911 it’s still gross negligence. It still could’ve killed my family,” says Schoeneck.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said Otterstrom is being charged with reckless burning, a class A misdemeanor.

“Punishable by up to 12 months in jail as well as restitution when it comes to damages it's caused to public land as well as private property,” says Gill.

However, Schoeneck wants to see more done.

“The law allowing this is stupid. It’s absolutely insane,” says Schoeneck.

He would like to see a state law banning aerial fireworks.

“This is something that people need to understand that this is life threatening. I equate it to driving drunk,” says Schoeneck.

Schoeneck believes fireworks should be left to the professionals.

“Go to the field days, sit down in your lawn chair, relax, let the professionals do it. 'Ooh' and 'ahh' and go home, but don’t burn down my house,” says Schoeneck.

Schoeneck is urging his neighbors here to join him at a town hall meeting Tuesday at 4pm at Cottonwood Heights city hall, to urge city leaders to ban fireworks all together, especially with Pioneer Day coming up on the 24th.

Grass fire damages homes in Cottonwood Heights