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A man was booked into the Cache County Jail on Wednesday on suspicion of setting fire to a Mendon barn in June and then denying it for months.

Aaron Kirk Obray, 24, was booked on suspicion of second-degree arson and third-degree obstruction of justice. Formal charges have yet to be filed.

In an interview with law enforcement on Wednesday, according to an affidavit filed with the court, Obray admitted to starting a nearby fire that “quickly spread to the barn.” Cache County Sheriff’s deputies wrote the fire resulted in approximately $80,000 in damage.

The affidavit states Obray initially provided a written statement indicating he didn’t know how the fire started. On Wednesday, however, deputies wrote Obray “apologized for not telling the truth the day it occurred,” and provided another statement that he was “burning a cardboard box that contained lacquer thinner on it.

“The box floated over to the barn and started it on fire,” deputies wrote.

Lt. Doyle Peck told The Herald Journal that Obray was employed at a location near the barn and was burning boxes as part of his employment. Peck explained Obray set the box alight, returned to his work and later discovered the fire had spread to the barn.

Peck said the box was burned “very close” to the barn; close enough, he said, that a person would have known the flames were at risk of spreading.

Peck said the estimated cost of the damage accounted for the burned building. And though nothing much was stored in the barn, it did house a piece of antique farm equipment.

The fire occurred in Mendon on June 23 — a mere 13 days after another barn fire burned through several bales of hay on the same property. At the time, Mendon Fire Chief Ray Olsen described the fire as “odd” and said there didn’t seem to be a good reason why the fire began in the first place. Utah state fire marshals were called upon to help investigate.

According to Peck, the first fire on the property was found to be the result of spontaneous combustion of wet hay. But as officials began looking into the second blaze, Peck said Obray increasingly became the focus of the investigation.

Peck said Obray led investigators “on a wild goose chase” for around four months, but indicated it could have been an accident — that Obray may have “panicked and tried to cover it up.”

“If you do have an accident, talk to us,” Peck said.

Court records show Obray was released on his own recognizance.

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