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Investigators determine Stetson Hills fire caused by man tossing smoldering fire pit ashes


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Investigators have determined that a wildfire on the 6700 block of Akerman Dr. in Colorado Springs Thursday was started after a homeowner threw smoldering ashes from a fire pit over his fence.

According to the Colorado Springs Police Department, Joshua Allen was served and released for "Firing Woods or Prairie", which is a class 6 felony. The fire began around 11:30 a.m. Thursday and prompted the evacuation of hundreds of homes in the area. However, it is important to note that Allen was one of the people who called 9-1-1 when the fire started.

I talked with my chain of command and we looked at every aspect possible. The gentleman was very cooperative. He was remorseful about it. So we were looking at class two [misdemeanor], but again, with the burn restrictions that are set in place, we just went with class six felony.

"We ended up charging that person with burning and 'Firing Woods or Prairie'," said Shawn Mahon, CSPD's EOD/Arson Unit Acting Sergeant. "Basically what that is, it means that anyone that has set a fire, knowingly, recklessly or negligent-wise, setting a fire to property, or the wildland areas in the woods can get charged with a class six felony or a class two misdemeanor. There was a difference yesterday that we had to look at, because there was fire restrictions and fire bans put in place by the City Fire Marshal. So we ended up charging that gentleman with a class six felony."

El Paso County is currently under fire restrictions, but officials warn a burn ban may be in place by the Memorial Day weekend.

Several fire agencies in El Paso County - as well as some Colorado Springs Police officers - responded to this incident to assist with firefighting efforts, evacuations, and traffic control. CSPD says several people were treated at the scene for smoke exposure. Close to 20 homes were damaged but none were lost.

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