A fired Forest Service worker pleaded guilty Friday to setting fire in the Pike National Forest and lying to investigators, but she was not immediately sentenced.
Terry Lynn Barton, 38 (pictured, left), entered the pleas in an agreement which proposes that she spend six years in federal prison.
However, when Judge Richard Matsch accepted the guilty pleas he
also ordered a pre-sentencing investigation before imposing a
penalty. Barton will return for sentencing on Feb. 21.
The fire that began near Lake George ravaged 137,000 acres
of the Pike National Forest and nearby lands and destroyed 133
homes and a business.
Do you think a six-year sentence for Terry Barton is fair as punishment for starting the Hayman Fire?Yes. She didn't start it on purpose.No. She should have gotten more time.I'm not sure about her guilt.
State officials are considering additional charges of arson
against Barton for the homes and business destroyed in the blaze.
The fired U.S. Forest Service employee had originally faced 17 to 65 years in federal prison and up to a $750,000 fine after prosecutors said she admitted starting the $38 million fire.
Barton remains free on $600,000 bond.
State prosecutors are still considering charging Barton with 134 counts of fourth-degree arson, Barton friend Scott Riebel told the The Denver Post.
"We're not doing anything until the federal folks are done,"
said Mike Knight, spokesman for Douglas County District Attorney
Barton told federal investigators June 15 that she accidentally
started the fire while burning a letter from her estranged husband in a fire ring. She tried to put it out but it grew out of control
in the forest tinder-dried by the drought.