BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — A woman who spread ashes from a fire pit in her garden bed was charged last week with a petty offense for her role in starting a 10-acre wildfire in April.
The Tally Ho Trail Fire caused more than $20,000 in damage to yards and fences, and burned open-space grassland in the Twin Lakes area on April 19. The fire, which didn't cause any injuries, was one of 12 wildland fires so far in Boulder County that have burned about 400 acres combined.
The suspect faces one charge of "firing woods or prairie" for criminal negligence in starting the fire, the Boulder County Sheriff's Office (BCSO) said Thursday. The state legislature recently amended the charge from a Class 2 misdemeanor to a petty offense.
The suspect cooperated with detectives from the beginning of the investigation, BCSO said.
The investigation found that she lit a fire in a metal backyard fire pit on the night of April 18 and extinguished it that same evening. There were no fire restrictions in place at that time.
About noon the next day, she spread the ashes in a garden bed along a backyard fence, believing the ashes would be good fertilizer. A short time later, she saw smoke and flames in the yard.
She went outside to try to extinguish the fire and called 911, according to BCSO.
"Investigators, after consulting with the Office of the District Attorney and other agencies, concluded that [the suspect's] decision to spread the ashes was criminally negligent because it amounted to a gross deviation from the standard of care a reasonable person would have exercised under similar circumstances," according to a news release.
Editor's note: This story was updated to remove the suspect's name after she pleaded guilty to a low-level charge and was sentenced to community service.
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