Forest Employee Charged in CO Wildfires

spectr17

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Forest Employee Charged in Wildfires

Jun 16, 2002

By JENNIFER HAMILTON, Associated Press Writer

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (AP) - A 38-year-old forestry technician was charged with starting the fire that scorched more than 100,000 acres in the Pike National Forest.

Terry Barton was charged with setting fire to timber in the national forest, damaging federal property in excess of $100,000 and making false statements to investigators, said Bill Leoni of the U.S. Attorney's Office.

She admitted to starting a campfire within a designated campfire ring while patrolling the forest to enforce a fire ban, Leoni said.

"She attempted to suppress the fire but it grew," Leoni said.

Barton faces a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.

Firefighters gained ground Sunday on the wildfire that had burned within 40 miles of Denver city limits since it was started June 8, threatening southwestern suburbs.

With the blaze about 35 percent contained, some 5,400 people remained out of their homes.

"I want to begin by saying, this is one of the hardest announcements I've had to make in my career," said Rick Cables, regional forester for the Rocky Mountain Region for the U.S. Forest Service.

"I'm shocked and with a lot of other people, in a state of disbelief," Cables said. "I'm saddened to say that one of our employees has admitted to starting the Hayman fire."

The wildfire, one of seven burning in the state, has destroyed at least 22 homes.

End article

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No doubt she'll get a 30 day suspension and then be promoted.
 

RSB

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http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=stor...dfires_barton_7

Barton initially told investigators she was patrolling the Pike National Forest when she smelled smoke and went to investigate, according to affidavits. She said she found a 20- by 20-foot fire near a campsite, called for help and vainly attempted to put it out.

But investigators found evidence that the fire was set deliberately to look like an escaped campfire. They looked at the time it started and concluded that the fire spread too quickly to have come from a campfire.

"Given prevailing conditions and the distance Barton reportedly was from the point of origin at the time she smelled smoke, the fire could not have been the size reported by Barton when she allegedly discovered it," Agriculture Department agent Joseph Crook wrote.

Confronted with the evidence, authorities said Barton confessed Saturday.

Crook said Barton told them she was on patrol when she looked at a letter she had received that day from her estranged husband, grew angry and decided to burn it. She walked to the campfire ring and ignited the letter with matches, Crook said.
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(From a caller on WWL radio 870 am New Orleans)

She could blame it on her estranged husband for sending her a such inflamed letter.


(Edited by RSB at 3:08 am on June 18, 2002)
 
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