Manson wildfire defendant opts for trial instead of plea

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A July 6 brushfire fire near Upper Joe Creek Road and Grade Creek Road outside Manson. (NCWLIFE photo)

WENATCHEE — An Everett man who admitted setting off a firework that caused a wildfire near Manson now says he wants a trial.

Michael Petrovich Popov, 18, was scheduled to plead guilty to a reduced charge of reckless burning on Wednesday. Instead, he told a Chelan County judge he’ll take the case to trial in January on the original charge: Felony first-degree arson.

Popov allegedly admitted to sheriff’s deputies that he used an explosive mortar to blow up a mailbox July 6 on Upper Joe Creek Road. That explosion led to a 14-acre brushfire.

Aside from the criminal charge, prosecutors want Popov to pay more than $37,000 to reimburse the costs of fighting the fire.