Authorities reopened all areas of the Fourmile Canyon fire to residents on Wednesday, but they say it may still be several days before they decide whether to file charges against the 71-year-old volunteer firefighter suspected of causing the blaze.
Cmdr. Phil West of the Boulder County Sheriff ’s Office told Boulder Weekly that there are still a number of interviews left for his office to complete before it is ready to make its final recommendation on whether charges should be filed. That evidence will then be presented to the district attorney’s office, where the final decision on filing charges will be made. The process, West says, will take at least a couple of days.
Investigators believe that the origin of the fire was most likely a fire pit in the 7100 block of Fourmile Canyon. Information indicates that the last fire in the fire pit prior to the Fourmile Canyon blaze had been several days before. At that time, the property owner attempted to extinguish the fire by dousing it with water and stirring the ashes.
Investigators say the wind reignited the embers and blew them out of the fire pit, causing the fire to spread on Sept. 6.
For criminal charges to be pursued, the responsible person would have had to act in a reckless or criminally negligent manner.
The definitions of criminal negligence and reckless behavior as defined under state law are:
Criminal negligence: a person acts with criminal negligence when, through a gross deviation from the standard of care a reasonable person would exercise, he fails to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a result will occur or a circumstance exists.
Reckless: a person acts recklessly when he consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a result will occur or that a circumstance exists.
The property owner is a life-long member of the community, investigators say, and they do not feel he is a danger to the public.