Felony charges likely for pair accused of starting Lake Christine Fire near Basalt | VailDaily.com

Felony charges likely for pair accused of starting Lake Christine Fire near Basalt

Officials were on the scene Wednesday morning, July 4, at the shooting range on the Basalt State Wildlife Area where the Lake Christine Fire started Tuesday evening.
Anna Stonehouse | The Aspen Times

EL JEBEL — Two El Jebel people will likely face felony charges for allegedly sparking the Lake Christine fire.

For now, Richard Karl Miller, 23, and Allison Sarah Marcus, 22, each face a fourth-degree arson charge, a misdemeanor.

However, their charges will likely be increased to felony charges for recklessly starting a fire and endangering a person, since an inhabited dwelling burned, said 5th Judicial District Attorney Bruce Brown.

If convicted, then Miller and Marcus face up to six years in state prison, Brown said.

Prosecutors will not reduce the charges, especially in the face of high statewide fire danger, Brown said.

Brown would not say when those felony charges would be filed, since detectives with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office have not completed their investigation.

Tracer rounds

Miller and Marcus allegedly sparked the Lake Christine fire by firing tracer rounds Tuesday evening, July 3, at the Basalt shooting range, according to the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office. Marcus and Miller were cooperative with law enforcement authorities and appeared distraught over starting the fire, according to a law enforcement source.

The public shooting range was open despite fire restrictions banning everything from charcoal grill fires to outdoor smoking. However, firing tracer ammunition is always banned, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which owns and operates the shooting range.

Perry Will, district wildlife manager for area 8, said the two were using a range where targets were set up in front of a berm cleared of vegetation. The point of origin was the hillside adjacent to that cleared area.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.