According to a post by the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, the two people suspected of starting the Lake Christine fire near Basalt – Richard Miller, 23, and Allison Marcus, 22 – appeared in court on August 14. The main takeaway from the proceeding is that defense attorneys requested that the next hearing take place months later on October 9 to allow time for additional discovery.
The two were initially charged with misdemeanor arson, but now face charges of “fourth-degree arson” and “firing woods or prairie,” both felonies that can carry a sentence of 2-to-6 years in prison. The charges against the pair escalated as a result of the fire destroying three homes, as well as the expensive cost of fighting the blaze, which has now exceeded $16 million.
Tracer rounds fired at a local shooting range are the suspected cause of the blaze, which started on July 3. Tracer rounds are banned from the range and were also illegal to use anywhere in the area at the time due to fire restrictions. Allison Marcus, one of the suspects, has stated that she’s the one who initially reported the start of the fire, taking blame during that initial call and showing remorse.
While the fire continues to burn, it is finally slowing down. Most recent reports from the National Wildfire Coordinating Group say that the fire is 90% contained, having burnt a total of 12,588 acres. Twenty-six personnel are currently on-site.
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Though many spots that this fire incinerated have now ceased burning, Aspen officials have made reminders to the public to stay out of burn scars from the blaze. One key reason for this is that the fire has weakened many of the trees in the area, which makes them prone to falling.
If you’re out there enjoying nature this weekend, make sure you know the current fire restrictions in the area that you’re at. These can change rapidly depending on a variety of factors and are crucial to follow. It’s also important to know where active fires are located.
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