Investigators say the Crystal Fire blaze that torched 13 homes and almost 3,000 acres in the foothills west of Fort Collins was caused by the son of a property owner burning slash.
Thomas Howie, 36 of Fort Collins, will be charged with 4th degree arson, which is a class four felony. A warrant for his arrest is expected to be issued in the next 24 to 48 hours, according to a press release from the Larimer County Sheriff.
The press release says that a local attorney representing Howie contacted the Sheriffâ€™s Office investigators on April 6 and said his client had information about the fire he wanted to talk to investigators about. Upon meeting with investigators, Howie admitted to starting the blaze while burning a slash pile. He left the property at 2394 Granite Road in Bellvue without reporting the fire.
Officials have recommended a personal recognizance bond of $10,000 for Howie.
The Crystal Fire started on April 1 and was fully contained by firefighters on April 11, with some operations continuing until April 15. The total cost of fighting the fire is estimated to be about $3 million.