Man Charged With Arson In El Paso County Fires

An El Paso County man has been charged with arson after causing a fire to spread over the county.

The Colorado homeowner is being charged with fourth-degree arson after burning something on his own property that ended up getting out of hand. The fire, which was started around 5 p.m., lasted for a few hours with firefighters keeping an eye on it for a while afterwards to make sure there were no more flareups.

The fire may not have taken any lives, human or animal, but it did burn up approximately 80 acres of land. The fire caused many homes to be evacuated as a precaution.

According to KKTV, who spoke with the local fire chief, Nellie Roop, "Command made the decision, because of how close it was to start evacuating homes, and without the predictability of the weather. It's best to get people out of there safe and sound than to have to contend with that as well."

Firefighters had to contend with warm and windy conditions on Saturday, making it somewhat difficult to contain the fire right away.

El Paso County residents were allowed to return to their homes late Saturday night once the fire had been contained. Neighbors of the man who started it all were understandably frightened, especially with the open plains all around.

Bob Bartlett, one such neighbor, told KKTV, "It's always scary; it's something you've got to get used to. I mean, like I say we've got a bunch of horses and we've got to make plans if we've got to get them out."

While the name of the man has not been released, authorities explained why he had been charged with fourth-degree arson and not first, saying, "Investigators say they do not believe the fire was intentional."

El Paso County of Colorado is accustomed to grass fires due to all of the open plains and often dry weather, with two grass fires occurring just a couple of weeks ago.

According to the Gazette, over 117 acres were burned in mid-March as "the weather service issued a red flag warning for eastern Colorado, meaning that fire danger would be high with winds, heat and low humidity."

While this latest fire may not have been intentional, it surely did do quite a bit of damage to the El Paso County landscape.

[Photo Courtesy of KOAA]