El Jebel residents charged with 4th-degree arson for Lake Christine Fire

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Officials were on the scene Wednesday morning at the shooting range on the Basalt State Wildlife Area where the Lake Christine Fire started Tuesday evening.
Anna Stonehouse / The Aspen Times

A man and a woman from El Jebel are facing an initial charge of fourth-degree arson for allegedly starting the Lake Christine Fire by firing tracer rounds Tuesday evening at the Basalt shooting range, according to the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.

Other charges may be filed against Richard Karl Miller, 23, and Allison Sarah Marcus, 22, after the investigation is concluded, according to Amber Barrett, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office. Both suspects live at the same address in El Jebel, Barrett said.

Fourth-degree arson is the most severe type of misdemeanor. They were given a summons in lieu of arrest, so they aren’t being held in Eagle County Jail.

No information was available on the date of their first court appearance.

They could be potentially responsible for restitution for the firefighting effort up to $1 million, Barrett said.

Marcus and Miller were cooperative with law enforcement authorities and appeared distraught over starting the fire, according to a law enforcement source.

They were allegedly at the shooting range firing tracer rounds shortly before 6 p.m. Tuesday. The public shooting range was open despite fire restrictions banning everything from charcoal grill fires to outdoor smoking.

However, firing tracer ammunition is always banned, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which owns and operates the shooting range.

Perry Will, district wildlife manager for area 8, said the two were using a range where targets were set up in front of a berm cleared of vegetation. The point of origin was the hillside adjacent to that cleared area.

“CPW is working with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney for the 5th Judicial District to issue formal charges in this case,” the wildlife agency said in a statement.

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