Summit County man ordered to pay fire dept. in illegal-burning case
September 2, 2010
SUMMIT COUNTY – A local man convicted of reckless endangerment after starting a wildfire in 2007 was court-ordered this week to pay $5,399 in restitution to Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue.
Mark Mathis, a county resident, is to pay the restitution as one of the conditions of his 12 months of unsupervised probation resulting from the conviction.
“We’re very pleased that (Summit County) Judge Olguin-Fresquez upheld the right for full restitution in this case,” LDFR chief Dave Parmley said in a press release. “This fire posed a risk not only to our firefighters and the residents of Sierra Bosque, but it also placed an unfair burden on the taxpayers of our district.”
At issue was whether the government agency met the legal definition of a victim eligible for restitution. Olguin-Fresquez determined that the fire district was “aggrieved” as a result of Mathis’ reckless behavior.
On Nov. 3, 2007, Mathis started an outdoor fire to burn material from a salvage project on his Sierra Bosque property, about 9 miles north of Silverthorne. According to Mathis, two hired workers started an additional fire that spread out of his control.
The fire grew and traveled uphill, threatening three homes. About 20 firefighters from Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue and Red White and Blue Fire-Rescue responded to the incident and successfully extinguished the fire, which burned 5.8 acres.
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After the blaze, Mathis was arrested on charges of second-degree arson. He later pleaded down to misdemeanor reckless endangerment and was convicted on July 27 of this year.
Due to the criminal cause of the fire, and the fact that Mathis’s property is located outside the fire district, the fire department sent Mathis a bill for $5,399.
Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue has an established list of fees it charges for services it provides outside the boundary of the district, or in cases of fires that are the result of a crime; Mathis’s bill was calculated accordingly.
Residents inside the fire-district boundary pay an annual property tax supporting the agency’s services.