The arson charge comes with a maximum penalty of six years in prison.
Felony arrest warrants have been issued against a man and a woman who allegedly ignited the Lake Christine fire with tracer bullets, district attorney says.
The district attorney will seek restitution for firefighting costs and the value of three homes that were destroyed, including one valued at $1 million.
Alison Marcus, 22, and Richard Miller, 23, each face two felony counts of fourth degree arson and igniting a fire in a forest in violation of a fire ban, District Attorney Bruce Brown said Monday.
Two El Jebel residents allegedly ignited the wildfire at a shooting range near Lake Christine around 6 p.m. on Tuesday July 3, 2018
The arson charge comes with a maximum penalty of six years in prison. Violating the fire ban could bring up to 18 months in prison, Brown said. Bail has been set at $7,500 for Marcus and Miller.
If the two are convicted, Brown said he would seek restitution for the three destroyed homes and the cost to fight and extinguish the blaze.
The three homes that were destroyed include a mobile home and a large home valued at more than $1 million, Brown said.
“The cost will probably be well over $1 million. The key isn’t the value of the homes, but that people inhabited them,” he said. There was a potential loss of life, he added.
The Lake Christine fire has consumed 5,916 acres and is 31 percent contained.
Brown said that tracer rounds ignite on impact. The fire is still burning so it’s unclear how much it will eventually cost to put out.
“It posed a threat to start a fire,” he said.
As of Monday, Marcus and Miller had not been arrested, but Brown said they will likely be arraigned and formally charged this week.
The blaze has triggered 500 home evacuations and continues to threaten power lines feeding electricity to the Roaring Fork Valley, authorities say.
The numerous power lines above Lake Christine State Wildlife Area are making the firefighting efforts at the Lake Christine fire extremely difficult. The fire sheered off some electrical poles, making it unsafe for ground crews. The power lines also make air and slurry drops tough.
The 5,916-acre fire is now 31 percent contained and has 555 crewmembers tackling it, according to fire officials. Humidity ranging between 11 to 20 percent and temperatures in the upper 80s to low 90s have caused isolated flare ups.
The fire is located about a mile northwest of Basalt and was started Tuesday by two people firing tracers at a firing range near Christine Lake. Three houses have been destroyed. It is a high-priority fire because the Roaring Fork Valley is a heavily populated area.
Sunday saw rain showers, which helps suppress fire behavior in the small grasses and brush according to fire officials.
Most roads will reopen in the Basalt area on Monday at 8 a.m. Cedar Drive and Upper Cattle Creek Drive will remain closed.