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Charges to be dropped against man suspected of starting Spring Fire

Prosecutors said Jesper Joergensen has been found incompetent to proceed on multiple occasions through the court process.

COSTILLA COUNTY, Colo. — Criminal charges will be dropped against the man accused of starting a large wildfire in southern Colorado in 2018, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The man accused of starting the Spring Fire, Jesper Joergensen, was arrested on June 28, 2018 and charged with 141 counts of arson.

Prosecutors said Wednesday that Joergensen has been found incompetent to proceed on multiple occasions through the court process, and the Costilla County Sheriff's Office doesn't have the resources to restore him to competency through forced medication.

Joergensen, who is from Denmark, was in the country illegally when he was charged with starting the fire, according to an arrest affidavit. The 12th Judicial District Attorney's office said they are working with the Department of Homeland Security to place Joergensen in their custody.

The charges will be officially dismissed at a court hearing Friday, prosecutors said.

The Spring Fire erupted on June 27, 2018. It burned for weeks, torching more than 108,000 acres and destroying more than 140 homes. Multiple communities were evacuated in the wake of the fast-moving fire, and a portion of Highway 160 was closed for days.

According to the affidavit, Joergensen said he used a fire pit to cook meat for several hours that night and then covered the pit to smother the fire. He told investigators he stirred the contents around to make sure it was out and "he saw no smoke, so he believed the fire was out and no longer a threat" according to the affidavit.

Investigators asked Joergensen if he poured water on the fire. He said "no," according to the report.

On June 27, 2018, Joergensen said he woke up from a nap around noon and smelled fire. He got out of his camper and saw the fire was in sage bushes about 20 feet away from his fire pit.

Joergensen ran toward the fire and attempted to smother it with a blanket, according to the affidavit. When that blanket caught fire, Joergensen threw it in the fire, the affidavit said.

He reported the fire, and when contacted by deputies from the Costilla County Sheriff's office, Joergensen had burn injuries on his right arm and calf, according to the report. There was also a burn mark on his chest.

Prior 9NEWS reporting was used in this article.

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