Judge Forces Rescued Hiker To Pay $300,000 For Out Of Control Fire

(NewsGlobal.com)- This week, a judge in Arizona fined a hiker hundreds of thousands of dollars for allegedly starting a forest fire in 2018 that burned 230 acres. He started the fire to signal for help. 

Judge Camille D. Bibles of the United States District Court for the District of Arizona fined Philip Powers, 37, over $290,000 because she found that he had started the fire. After all, he had not adequately prepared for his hike through the Prescott and Coconino forests. It will take Powers upwards of 120 years to pay off his debt at a rate of $200 each month. 

On Friday, Powers’ lawyer appealed the verdict, citing his client’s assertion that he started the fires out of desperation. In a December court filing, attorney Sarah K. Erlinder contended that Powers did not intentionally spread the fire and could not stop it. 

The judge said the necessity argument is inadmissible if the defendant fails to establish that he did not carelessly or negligently put themselves in circumstances in which they would probably be forced to commit the offense. 

Powers set off on the 17-mile Cabin Loop on May 27, 2018, a day with an expected high of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, with less than a gallon of water, snacks, and a mobile phone charger that ran on batteries. While he said he wouldn’t be staying the night, he did bring along his tent and sleeping bag just in case. Not realizing he was approximately 50 miles from his intended goal, Powers continued on the “strenuous” 18.8-mile Taylor Cabin Loop. 

Powers apparently got lost after hiking almost 14 miles and decided to hole up in the cabin at approximately 6 p.m., when he discovered some expired peanut butter, jam, and coconut oil and tried to start a signal fire that eventually burned out. The report claims that in order to save water, he drank his own pee. 

The following day, he gave it another go, this time igniting dry vegetation against a dead tree, which rapidly caught fire and spread. In the aftermath of the wildfire, rescuers located Powers and sent him to the emergency room in Sedona, Arizona, where he was treated for several ailments including acute renal failure and dehydration.