Lost Arizona hiker started three wildfires trying to signal for help

Wildfire in forest
(Image credit: Getty)

A man has been found guilty of starting three forest fires after he became lost while hiking in Arizona. Philip Powers started three different fires in an attempt to signal for help back in 2018, and destroyed huge amounts of woodland in the process.

As local news channel KJZZ  and the Arizona Daily Independent report, Powers had become stranded without sufficient water in Coconino National Forest, after embarking on a day hike on May 27.

He used his lighter to start the first fire near a historic rancher's shack to attract attention, then lit a second the following morning when he woke with cramps that left him unable to walk a long distance.

Powers attempted to hard out again later that day, and set yet another fire after seeing aircraft overhead. 

"Powers, who was dressed in green camouflage, stated that he lit a third fire [...] in an attempt to attract the firefighters to his location as well as waving an orange cloth,” US Forest Service Officer Mike O’Neil wrote in a statement.

Sycamore Fire

The most destructive of the three blazes, the Sycamore Fire, engulfed 230 acres before it was brought under control. More than 100 firefighters, five helicopters, one air attack, four crews, and one fire engine were involved in the effort.

Power was found guilty on seven misdemeanor counts, and faces up to 3.5 years in jail. No public records explain why it took so long to start criminal proceedings.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.