No criminal charges will be filed against the volunteer firefighter who apparently started the Four Mile Canyon Fire, Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett announced Wednesday.
"The standard of review for filing criminal charges is whether the District Attorney reasonably believes that each element of a crime can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury of twelve," Garnett said. "
Garnett said the decision not to file charges against anyone was made after a "thorough tour of the fire scene" and discussions with the sheriff's office.
Further fire reports are expected from the United States Forest Service, which also participated in the fire suppression effort and conducted its own investigation.
However, Garnett said they do not expect that these reports will provide significantly different evidence than that which has already been presented.
"But they will be carefully analyzed by the District Attorneys Office, along with any other new information that may become available, to determine if a different conclusion regarding charges is warranted," the district attorney's office said.
The Fourmile Canyon Fire burned 10-square miles and destroyed 166 homes 5 miles west of Boulder.
Sheriff's investigators said the volunteer firefighter, George Fairer, was burning debris in a fire pit several days before the fire broke out. Wind apparently reignited the embers, sparking the wildfire that swept through the foothills near Boulder, causing $217 million in damages.
"During Mr. Fairer's interview with investigators he indicated he had last used the fire pit on Sept. 2 and afterward doused the fire with water and stirred the ashes. Again, on Sept. 3 he returned to the fire pit and doused it with water and stirred the ashes to ensure the fire was out. It is believed that the wind reignited the embers and blew them out of the fire pit, causing the fire to spread on Sept. 6," the sheriff's office said.
Garnett said he couldn't prove in a court of law that the fire was started by the volunteer firefighter.
"We probably would have what lawyers call probable cause that that's how it started. But I think that we would have difficulty proving beyond a reasonable doubt that that's how it started and it wasn't a stray cigarette or something else," he said.
The sheriff's office said it will be releasing the preliminary report and recordings of the communications transmissions regarding the fire.
The fire is the most expensive and destructive fire in Colorado history.
The Fourmile Canyon fire erupted on Labor Day and burned 6,181 acres. It wasn't fully contained until Sept. 13. The cost of fighting the fire was pegged at $9,955,251.
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