At this writing, the Hewlett fire near Fort Collins is almost 90 percent contained, with the soggy weather over the weekend helping to give firefighters the upper hand.
The sooner they mop up the destructive blaze, the more quickly the meter stops running for James Weber, who'll be asked to help pay for putting it out after admitting to starting it.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Weber, 56, was camping near the Hewlett Gulch trail when his alcohol-fueled stove sparked the conflagration. He tried to stomp it out, then split when his efforts were unsuccessful. And while he reported his role as a fire starter to the Larimer County Sheriff's Office, he was still given a citation by the U.S. Forest Service.
The offense carries with it a $300 fine, plus a $25 processing fee -- not bad. But the U.S. Attorney's Office has announced that the Forest Service "will also pursue Weber for restitution," which definitely won't be cheap. The most up-to-date figure we've seen regarding firefighting costs is $2.9 million. And while crews clearly have the upper hand at this point, their work isn't done.
According to the just-updated Inciweb site devoted to Hewlett, the fire, which was first reported Monday afternoon, May 14, in Roosevelt National Forest and has consumed more than 7,000 acres, is 87 percent contained. It didn't really expand over the weekend, when the area was doused with a half-inch of rain in addition to water dropped from a trio of helicopters.
Look below and page down to see photos of the fire courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service. They should give you a better understanding of the destruction wreaked by Weber's camping stove.
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