The Spring Fire, allegedly started June 27 five miles east of Fort Garland by 52-year-old Jesper Joergensen, reportedly exceeded 107,000 acres and destroyed more than 141 homes.
It was declared completely out in late July, but the fate of the man accused of starting it will be determined after a months-long journey through the courts.
Joergensen is in custody facing 141 counts of first-degree arson, as well as a hold by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), since he is a Danish National with an expired visa.
More charges were expected in Huerfano County, where some 88 homes and structures were destroyed.
Retired 6th Judicial District Judge Gregory G. Lyman of Durango was assigned to the case after judges in the 12th Judicial District recused themselves due to the fact that a fellow employee had lost a cabin in the fire.
There was no debate at the hearing whether Joergensen started a fire at his home, a fire that devastated parts of two counties. The question was whether someone can be charged with felonious first-degree arson if he intentionally started a small fire at his residence knowing that a burning ban was in place and the fire eventually became the third largest wildfire in Colorado history.
Joergensen first told Costilla County Deputy Karina Garcia and Undersheriff Ricky Rodriguez that he had been burning trash, and then changed his story to having cooked some meat on a grate in one of the fire pits.
The rapidly moving fire burned in excess of 108,000 acres and destroyed more than 141 homes in Costilla and Huerfano counties and its origin was traced to Joergensen’s home in a remote area about four miles east of Fort Garland.
Two inspectors from the Colorado Division of Fire Protection testified that they traced the fire to Joergensen’s place after the fire had already burned its way across part of Costilla County.