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Fire starter sentenced to probation

On Sunday, June 27, 1999, 14-year-old Tommy Trent of Las Animas was visiting relatives in Battlement Mesa. That hot, windy afternoon he was playing in the grass and shrub-filled gulch that skirts the Monument Creek Village and Stone Ridge subdivisions. He was playing with a cigarette lighter and he set the grass on fire. Winds between 30 and 40 mph soon whipped up the flames that burned through the tinder-dry brush, pinon pine and juniper. The fire consumed nine homes and damaged 24 others. Hundreds of residents were evacuated. The fire burned more than 100 acres and caused an estimated $3 million in damage. Miraculously, no one was seriously injured.

Trent surrendered to police on June 30, 1999. Ironically, he made his first appearance in court on the fifth anniversary of the deadly Storm King Fire in which 14 firefighters were killed.

He pleaded guilty to first-degree arson, criminal mischief and starting a wildfire, and agreed to pay restitution of $14,900 to cover homeowners’ insurance deductibles. He was sentenced the following November to five years probation.



At the time of his sentencing, he was living with his guardian in Grand Junction and working through a county program to repay his debt.


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