GRAND COUNTY, Colo. — A man has been formally charged with 12 counts of felony arson after allegedly setting fires during a fire ban in Grand County between Oct. 27 and Oct. 29, 2020.
Christopher Linsmayer, 68, faces 12 counts of felony fourth-degree arson and 12 counts of misdemeanor fourth-degree arson, according to the 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office. He allegedly set the fires in the Gorewood Subdivision in Grand County near Kremmling, not too far from where the 193,804-acre East Troublesome Fire has been burning.
Linsmayer is Denver District Attorney Beth McCann's husband.
District Attorney Matt Karzen said violating the fire ban put residents and first responders at risk, "which is simply unacceptable."
On Thursday, the Grand County Sheriff's Office said deputies responded to the Gorewood Subdivision off of County Road 14S on Oct. 27 around 4:20 p.m. after receiving a report of a possible fire burning near a home. When deputies and the Kremmling Fire Protection District arrived, they found multiple unattended slash piles actively burning, the sheriff's office said.
The fire department couldn't get a water truck up to the piles because of weather conditions, so firefighters had to hike in to put the flames out using hand tools, shovels and the snow on the ground to extinguish the fire, according to the sheriff's office. Deputies tried to find the property owner, who was later identified as Linsmayer, and learned he left the home earlier in the morning.
The following day, Oct. 28, a deputy returned to the home around noon and found 12 slash piles, four still smoldering and smoking from under the ground. The Kremmling Fire Protection District responded again and was able to dig up the soil and extinguish the piles.
Deputies tried to call Linsmayer and were told he had talked with his attorney regarding the situation, according to the sheriff's office.
Carolyn Tyler, a spokesperson for the Denver District Attorney's Office, released the following statement on Thursday: "Ms. McCann asked that I convey her thanks to the Kremmling Fire Department and to the Grand County Sheriff’s Office for their response. She is thankful that no property was damaged nor any injuries sustained. This is a very difficult time for her and her family, and they are cooperating fully with the investigation. Because this is an open investigation, I cannot provide details or discuss this incident."
Court records show Linsmayer previously faced two counts of having an open fire without a burn permit in Grand County, stemming from a November 2016 incident. Those charges were dismissed by the district attorney in March 2017, according to records.
According to Sky-Hi News reports, a 10-acre wildfire, known as the Gore Ridge Fire, started on Linsmayer’s property in September 2016 and spread to a neighboring property, causing over $100,000 in damage. He was also charged in August 2019 with fourth-degree arson and violating a county ordinance, according to court records.
Denver7 Chief Investigator Tony Kovaleski talked with neighbors in late October who said this is not an occasional or seasonal thing. One neighbor said it seems to be almost a hobby. They also expressed frustrations about how despite a pattern in his behavior, he had retrieved only misdemeanors, no felonies.
That changed on Tuesday, with 12 felony charges against him.
Linsmayer is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 15.
Grand County Sheriff’s Office led the investigation, with support from the Kremmling Fire Protection District and local first responders.