The causes of many brush fires in and around North Phoenix remain mysteries. But the case of a 20-acre fire Sunday in Black Canyon City appears to be solved after a man found buried in mud and strapped with an explosive device admitted to starting it.
The story started Sunday, Aug. 20 at about 8:30 a.m., when a woman reported a domestic violence incident involving a firearm at a residence in Black Canyon City. According to the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office (YCSO), 54-year-old Scott Wayne confronted his girlfriend and threatened her with a gun, after learning she was seeing another man. Wayne later fell asleep, and the woman called the sheriff’s office. When deputies arrived, Wayne was gone.
Early in the afternoon, someone matching Wayne’s description was spotted, hiding in a creek, by a ranger in a Department of Public Safety (DPS) helicopter.
“Deputies arrived and found Wayne attempting to conceal himself in the mud,” YCSO said in a statement earlier this week. “Wayne told deputies he had an explosive device in his pocket. Deputies backed away and contained Wayne in an open area until DPS bomb technicians arrived.”
An additional explosive device was found in his jacket, laying several yards away. The bomb squad secured the devices and dispatched them in a controlled explosion, and Wayne was taken into custody. Wayne’s handgun was also found and recovered, YCSO said.
Meanwhile, “Wayne addmitted ‘accidentally’ starting a fire when he threw lit cigarettes into the brush,” YCSO said. That’s the fire that burned 20 acres.
“Wayne claimed the explosive devices were intended to allow him to commit suicide rather than return to prison,” YCSO said.
Wayne has been booked on multiple charges, including domestic violence, various weapons charges and unlawful wildland burning, a felony. He is also being held on a felony aggravated assault warrant from California, YCSO said.