Investigators from the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Forest Service have determined the Crystal Fire was started by the son of a property owner burning debris at 2394 Granite Road, Bellvue, Colorado.
Thomas Howie, DOB: 01/03/75, of Fort Collins will be charged with one count of 4th Degree Arson, a class four felony. A warrant for his arrest is expected to be issued within 24 to 48 hours. A $10,000 personal recognizance bond has been recommended.
On April 6, Larimer County Sheriff’s Office investigators were contacted by a local attorney representing Mr. Howie. He indicated that his client had information about the fire he wanted to speak with investigators about. Subsequently, Mr. Howie voluntarily met with investigators and admitted that he started the fire while burning a slash pile. Mr. Howie left the property but did not report the fire.
The Crystal Fire started on the evening of April 1 and ultimately encompassed approximately 2940 acres. 13 homes were destroyed in addition to numerous other private property. Three firefighters were injured during fire suppression operations. The fire was 100% contained on April 11 with additional operations extending through April 15. At the peak of the fire there were approximately 450 people assigned to fire operations. The total cost of fighting the fire is estimated to be approximately $3 million as of April 14.