Man Who Started Redlands Fire Could Face Charges

By: Jessica Zartler Email
By: Jessica Zartler Email

A homeowner's association on the Rdlands is talking about banning open burns just days after a fire came frighteningly close to neighbor's homes and the Grand Junction Fire Department says the man who started the fire could face criminal charges.

The Grand Junction Fire Department is still investigating exactly how a controlled burn got out of control and sparked a 40–acre blaze in The Preserve neighborhood on the Redlands.

Officials say preliminary investigations show the homeowner who is responsible, may not have had a burn permit.

Michael Black can still smell the smoke in the trees and the burnt brush behind his house.

"I was just sitting in my office and looking out the window and I saw just giant flames from these trees over here burning," Black told 11 News on Friday.

His memories still strong from his brush with a raging fire on Wednesday.

"To see it happening was pretty horrifying."

He grabbed his wife and kids and left until firefighters put out the fire. He came home to find everything in its place and no damage.

"I'm relieved we still have the house," said Black.

And now that things have settled down, the HOA member says he doesn't want any of his neighbors doing open burning.

"Personally I wouldn't light a match in here."

Mike Page with the Grand Junction Fire Department says with all of the heavy tamarask, the fire could have been much worse.

"Just thank goodness he didn't have high winds the day of this fire," Page told 11 News on Friday.

He says there is no burn permit registered to the Preserve Lane address where the fire started.

He questions whether or not the homeowner knew the safest way to burn.

"You just have to be careful. Those burns can get out of control so quickly."

Page says the fire department is considering misdemeanor charges in the case for illegal burning and may make the homeowner pay for the costs of fighting the fire.

Neighbors like Michael Black are just glad the fire didn't cost more than a couple trees and they aren't looking for their neighbor to get in trouble.

"I'm not angry. I'm Not looking for vengeance or anything like that," Black said on Friday.

They just don't want him or anyone else burning weeds in their neighborhood.

11 News Reporter Jessica Zartler spoke to the man who started the fire and he didn't want to go on camera but he said he's just thankful for the amazing job the firefighters did.

The fire department will finish its investigation and then decide whether or not to file charges.

Michael Black says his homeowner's association will be meeting as well to consider banning open burns.

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