Apr 182011
Authors: Jim Sojourner

The man whose burning debris ignited the Crystal Fire blaze that torched 13 homes and almost 3,000 acres in the foothills west of Fort Collins will face felony arson charges.

Thomas Howie, 36, of Fort Collins, will be charged with 4th degree arson, a class-four felony, for allegedly starting the fire by burning a pile of slash on his parents’ property.

As of Monday afternoon, the Larimer County Sheriff expected to issue a warrant for his arrest in 24 to 48 hours, according to a release from LCSO.

A local attorney representing Howie contacted the Sheriff’s Office investigators on April 6 and said his client had information about the fire he wanted to share. Upon meeting with investigators, Howie admitted to starting the blaze. He left the property at 2394 Granite Road in Bellvue, Colo. without reporting the fire.
Officials have recommended a personal recognizance bond of $10,000 for Howie.

The Crystal Fire started on April 1 and burned 2,940 acres before it was fully contained by firefighters on April 11, with some operations continuing until April 15. About 450 people were assigned to the fire at its peak, bringing the total estimated cost of fighting the fire to about $3 million.

Managing Editor Jim Sojourner can be reached at news@collegian.com.

By the numbers

The number of homes torched by the fire

The number of people assigned to fight the fire during its peak

The number of acres burned by the fire

3 million
The approximate cost of fighting the fire

 Posted by at 5:59 pm

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