Hayman Fire

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The Hayman Fire was a forest fire that started 95 miles (153 km) southwest of Denver, Colorado and 35 miles (56 km) northwest of Colorado Springs on June 8, 2002, and became the largest fire in the state's recorded history. Hundreds of forestry officials and firefighters fought the fast-moving inferno, which caused nearly $40 million in damages, burned 133 homes and forced the evacuation of 5,340 people. Smoke could be seen and smelled across the state from Vail, 108 miles (174 km) northwest, to Burlington, 188 miles (303 km) east, and from Broomfield, 120 miles (190 km) north, to Walsenburg, 130 miles (210 km) south. The fire wasn't contained until July 2, 2002 and was finally brought under control on July 18, 2002.[2] The cause of the wildfire was found to be arson.[3]

When then-Governor Bill Owens responded to a reporter’s question following an aerial tour of the fires (“What does it look like up there?”), Owens said “It looks as if all of Colorado is burning today”.[4] Many western slope residents blamed Owens for driving away tourists with the press’s truncated version of the quote (“All of Colorado is burning”).[5]

Contents

Fatalities

Ann Dow, 50, suffered a fatal asthma attack on the evening of June 10, 2002 when heavy smoke from the fire drifted over the Dows' home south of Florissant. She quickly lapsed into unconsciousness and paramedics could not revive her. Her death certificate lists the cause as "acute asthma attack due to or as a consequence of smoke inhalation".

Five firefighters died in a traffic accident en route to the Hayman fire from Oregon: Zach Zigich, Retah Shirley, Jacob Martindale, Danial Rama, and Bart Bailey. They died on June 21, 2002 and are listed in the memorial to fallen firefighters on the Wildland Firefighter Foundation's website.

Criminal prosecutions

A federal forestry officer, Terry Barton, who claimed she was attempting to burn a letter from her estranged husband, set the fire inside a campfire ring within an area designated for no fires due to a severe drought. The fire quickly spread out of the campfire ring and eventually torched over 138,000 acres (560 km2) and burned across four different counties. A federal grand jury indicted Barton on four felony counts of arson.[6]

Barton ultimately pleaded guilty to the arson charge[7] and was given a six year sentence in federal prison. It was also considered that she wanted attention by starting a fire, so she could be a hero for saving the forest. The fire she started killed not only animals but also firefighters.[8] She was also ordered to reimburse the federal government $14.6 million. The State of Colorado originally sentenced Barton to 12 years in prison to run concurrently with the 6-year federal sentence. However the state sentence was overturned on appeal on grounds that the presiding judge had "the appearance of prejudice" because smoke from the fire motivated him to voluntarily leave his home for one night.[9] In March 2008, Barton was re-sentenced by a different judge to 15 years of probation.[10]

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