BLM decries fiery 'fundraiser'

Published: Wednesday, March 23 2011 6:10 p.m. MDT

A vehicle burns as part of a stunt by John Maxim, who pleaded guilty to creating a hazard by setting his car ablaze.

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SALT LAKE CITY — His personal life spiraling out of control and faced with the dim prospect of foreclosure, a Salt Lake man embarked on a novel quest to raise money.

John Maxim offered to torch his car in exchange for cash. And it worked.

"I tried something that was a little crazy and unorthodox, but it worked," he said.

In a plea for help he perpetuated through a personal blog and through Facebook, Maxim sported photos of his 1993 Ford Escort and said he was willing to have companies "pay" to put advertising slogans on his car before it went up in flames. He also asked for donations or loans.

His unique offer sparked such interest that the dollars began dribbling in, with the total reaching $20,000, which he has promised to use to pay back to donors.

The Bureau of Land Management, however, was less than impressed, instituting an investigation that resulted in Maxim being convicted in federal court this month on two criminal offenses.

Maxim pleaded guilty to misdemeanor violations of creating a hazard and a nuisance and starting a fire other than a campfire. His probation also included a $1,000 fine and restitution of $2,413.75 to cover response costs, fire suppression and auto towing fees.

Maxim torched his car this past fall at one of his favorite camping spots at Lone Rock in Tooele County's Skull Valley, which is on BLM land. The burning Tempo was captured on film and posted on websites.

Email: amyjoi@desnews.com; acabrero@desnews.com

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