Taylor Kemp denied Thursday in Ada County Magistrate Court that he set off the illegal fireworks that caused June’s Table Rock Fire, which destroyed a home, threatened dozens more and charred more than 2,500 acres at the well-known Boise Foothills landmark.
The 19-year-old submitted an application for a public defender, saying he could not afford to hire an attorney. He was told to return to court Nov. 1 for a pretrial hearing.
If convicted of violating Ada County’s fireworks ordinance — a misdemeanor — Kemp could serve up to six months in jail and pay a $1,000 fine.
Fire officials said they will also seek repayment of the $400,000 it cost to put out the blaze. And the owner of the lone house that burned might try to recoup his $200,000 losses, or at least ensure Kemp — if guilty — contributes to cleaning up that lot.
The Ada County Sheriff’s Office says Kemp called 911 to report the fire. He initially told detectives he saw a group of people in their early 20s lighting Roman candles, and that the fire started when one of those fell over. In August, when detectives visited Kemp again, he recanted and admitted his fault, according to ACSO.
Kemp insists he is innocent. Friday, he said he was touted as a hero after calling 911 and reporting the blaze after it started.
“I really don’t feel like a hero anymore,” Kemp said.