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Danish man who allegedly started Spring Fire charged with 141 counts of arson

No judge from the 12th Judicial District will preside the case, as one of them is a victim of the man's alleged arson. So, the Colorado Supreme Court has been asked to appoint an out-of-district judge to preside over the case.
Credit: CCSO
Jesper Jorgenson, 52

KUSA — The Danish man who's accused of starting the Spring Fire back in late June is facing 141 felony charges of arson after the fire tore through 107,000 acres and destroyed more than 130 homes, according to a release from 12th Judicial Circuit.

Because a judge in the 12th Judicial Circuit is a potential victim of the fire, the entire 12th Judicial Circuit is recusing itself from presiding over the case, the news release said. The 12th Circuit has requested the Colorado Supreme Court appoint a judge from outside their district to preside over the case.

Jesper Joergensen, 52, was living in the woods east of Fort Garland on June 27 and told investigators he was using a fire pit to cook some meat the night the fire started, according to an arrest affidavit. He told law enforcement he swirled the contents of the pit after smothering the fire and didn't see any smoke.

Joergensen said he believed the fire was out and went to take a nap. He told investigators he did not pour any water on the fire, the affidavit said.

When Joergensen awoke, sage bushes about 20 feet away were on fire, the arrest report said. He reportedly tried to smother that fire with a blanket, but when the blanket caught fire he just tossed it into the flames.

The affidavit says he called deputies from the Costilla County Sheriff's Office to report the fire. When law enforcement arrived, they found him with burn injuries on his right arm, calf and a burn mark on his chest.

When asked if he thought the fire he was using to cook some meat might have started the blaze, the affidavit says his reply was "no."

He told law enforcement he was sure the fire was out and that there was no way he'd caused it, the affidavit says.

RELATED | Affidavit: Spring Fire arson suspect used fire pit to cook meat

Joergensen has overstayed his visa and is wanted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who've placed a detainer on him. Basically, that means when he's released from jail, ICE would like to take custody of him.

The Spring Fire, which scorched its way through large swaths of Costilla and Huerfano County is now 83 percent contained. It moved close to the unincorporated community of Cuchara on the south and La Veta to the north - moving closer to but never getting near Fort Garland on the western edge.

Over 1,100 personnel have been assigned to work the fire, including incident commanders and firefighters.

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