Man charged in Colorado fire that leveled 2 homes
Associated Press Writer
DENVER – Prosecutors filed an arson charge Friday against a man accused of accidentally igniting a wildfire that destroyed two homes and charred 740 acres in the northern Colorado foothills.
Joel Ledermann has agreed to surrender to face one count of fourth-degree arson, Larimer County district attorney’s spokeswoman Linda Jensen said.
His attorney, Marco Scalise, didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.
Authorities previously said the fire was started by two residents burning leaves and other debris without a required permit. It wasn’t immediately clear why only one person was charged.
Jensen said the charge was filed after a thorough review of the circumstances surrounding the start of the fire.
“Fourth-degree arson is if they recklessly start a fire which places other property in danger,” Jensen said. “After reviewing the case, we felt that it was appropriate to file charges.”
She declined to comment further.
If convicted, Ledermann faces two to six years in prison. He owns a dairy supply company in Loveland, according to public records.
About 100 people were evacuated from their homes west of Loveland because of the blaze.
The fire broke out Sept. 12, just as firefighters were wrapping up the battle against a bigger, more destructive wildfire in the foothills west of Boulder, about 30 miles to the south. That fire burned 10 square miles and destroyed more than 166 homes.
Prosecutors announced Wednesday they would not file charges in that case.
Investigators said the Boulder blaze spread from a fire started by a volunteer firefighter in a pit on his property. The firefighter told authorities he thought he had extinguished it.
Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett said he didn’t think prosecutors could prove the firefighter knowingly started the fire or acted recklessly, a requirement for conviction.
Another wildfire has burned about 1,000 acres, or about 1 1/2 square miles, in a remote part of Rocky Mountain National Park.
Lightning ignited the fire June 24, and park officials say it is in a rugged area that hasn’t burned in about 370 years. Crews are managing the fire’s western flank.
It’s expected to keep burning until it’s extinguished by rain or snow.
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